Thursday, 20 December 2012

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

19: Newborn

For a precious 24 hours, being born yesterday is a valid excuse for just about anything. Even for bovines.
Unto us a calf is born. 

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Friday, 14 December 2012

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Saturday, 8 December 2012

8: Pobrecito Blitzen

Sleighing no more.
Day 8.

When dashing down Interstate 40 in a four-horse open trucka, you can sure see some crazy stuff.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

4: Cracking

Onward Christmas soldiers. 
Day four in Advent.

The ornaments are getting restless.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Sunday, 2 December 2012

2: Firewood

Deck the fires. 
Day two in Advent.

Tis the season of choruses and cords; cold tile floors and toasty slippers; stove top tea kettles and midnight runs to the wood pile.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

1: Advent, the trilogy

Cosy, que no?
Happy advent! The countdown begins.

And so does the third annual Chaos HQ photo advent calender. Consider yourself warned, and invited to do a photo advent calendar of your own.

Now back to the roaring fire.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Animal husbandry

The girls wanted a cat.

It all began with an involuntary kidnapping. Tasked with looking after three kittens while their keepers were out of town, I accidentally walked out the door with Ginger Cat. He was too cute to just leave there. And he was giving me a look that said "please accidentally kidnap me."

I see what you're up to, kid. 
Then when Ginger Cat came home, they wanted a dog. So when a friend offered a lovely three-year old golden retriever, I jumped at the chance. And when another friend offered an adorable six-week puppy, I could hardly say no.

I've become obsessed with pointing out the benefits of our new home: tractors, hay bales, running space, high fructose corn syrup as high as an elephant's eye, etc.

I focus on this stuff because their occasional forays into homesickness really get me in the gut. So when I pointed out that we could now have pets - an impossibility in our previous life - this really captured their imaginations.

Next stop, hamsterville. 
Three pets later, I've just about earned me an intervention from my long-suffering soulmate. In my defense, every time I bring home a new pet, the girls suddenly discover another pocket of homesickness that will only be cured by their mama accidentally kidnapping ANOTHER creature.

Ali, for instance, is now feeling quite partial to horses. And Ana has noticed that a bullsnake would bring her great cosmic happiness. Her uncle has one, and he is basically a superhero.

In response to her latest pet acquisition  Ana said: "I still miss London. Until I get a hamster."

So you see, I am being played like an idiot violin by my own offspring. But you have to admit that hamsters are pretty cute...

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The first Thanksgiving

Do you feel lucky, punk?
Four months ago, I stepped off the boat from England.

This being 2012, I didn't have to wear silly buckles on my shoes, and it was a 747 rather than the Mayflower. While the Mayflower almost certainly had more legroom, it didn't have "The Avengers" on demand. So thank goodness for that.

This November, I am feeling thankful for the warm welcome I've received in my re-adopted homeland. Though missing old friends, I am grateful for new friends and the kindness of strangers.

I've learned a few things since my arrival to these shores. For instance:
  1. Wild turkeys are harder to catch than their Butterball primos
  2. The phrase "cesspit" can be literal. 
  3. Filling a diesel truck with unleaded is a bad idea.
  4. In the colonies, it is customary to drive on the RIGHT.
  5. Though the size of whales (and sometimes Wales), diesel trucks are safe to operate so long as you mind items 3 and 4. 
  6. Halloween in America is completely magical.
  7. Halloween in America will send you into a sugar-induced coma. 
  8. Garter snakes are mostly harmless. 
  9. Centipedes are the root of all evil
  10. When in doubt, eat natillas
  11. Rain is overrated.
  12. Every day is Thanksgiving when your relatives have ninja pie-making skills. 
  13. I really need to work on my ninja pie-making skills. 
  14. And my ability to fix stuff with duct tape and bailing wire. 
May the year ahead be abundant in warmth and joy for you and yours. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Thinking inside the box

It took the movers a whopping three months to send our boxes from London to New Mexico. To their credit, the road between these two destinations isn't well-trod, or even paved.

Cardboard reef shark. 
Three months was long enough for me to forget about everything I ever owned. This made opening up the boxes a bit like Christmas, except that my taste in stuff is considerably more naff than I had remembered. 

So while I didn't remember owning three copies of "Heart of Darkness", a sudden glut of leftover book boxes triggered the memory of a magical childhood week that I once spent lost in a vast cardboard city. 

That autumn, back in the mists of time, my lovely kindergarten teacher took it upon herself to collect a sea of boxes in all shapes and sizes. There were probably about twenty boxes, but my child-mind remembers thousands. She filled the school courtyard, and her lucky kids were given run of the place, to create our own civilization. 

We made roads, houses, shops and a market square. We even designed some suspiciously European public transportation networks. It was utopia by five-year olds, and it was a blast. 

So this autumn, I knew what to do with my leftover boxes. They have become a bright cardboard reef, teeming with imaginary life, in the back garden. 

The crickets have an orange house. The bunny rabbits have a white house. Ginger Cat has a pink house. And Cookie Banane, who is visiting Box City from the Sun, has full run of the place. 

Playing in boxes was easier when I was a shorty in kindergarten. I'm nearly six feet tall now, but if I curl up tight, really dust off my imagination, and mutter "there's no place like home", I find myself returned full circle to the Box City of my childhood.

If to go far is to return, then glitter paint must be really important in the scheme of things.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Herding Cat

Indian summer has swept luxuriantly all over the llano like too much butter. And like overly-buttered toast, it's heaven.

How now, fake-summer cow?
There's little else to do with weather this perfect than go for long autumn walks over fields and through the bosque, contemplating life, the universe, and everything.

Since I'm now surrounded by them, I'm trying to rekindle my childhood ability to relate to animals. So far I've instigated communication failures with Ginger Cat, hornets, cows, wild turkeys, and small children. I'm sure there will be more creatures to add to the list next week.

It's so lovely outside that I forgot to remember the fifth of November till just now. My apologies to the drawn and quartered ghost of Guy Fawkes.  I nearly managed to forget election day too.

Unlike me, the vultures ain't fooled by fake summer. They disappeared weeks ago, and will only return after the last wisp of pinion smoke fades. Till then, it's me and the creatures up against the winter. So I guess we'd all better learn to play nice.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Rain shadows

Here on the bone-dry llano, I struggle to comprehend how the other side of America could be under water. I've seen the pictures of angry sky and ocean, but here the sun just keeps shining like a megaphone in a sky that's got the perpetual blues. If a wind kicks up, the dust dances just to drive the point home.

"You there, Dog? It's me, Cat."
Humans are amazing - we build real airplanes and virtual cats. We are the inventors of both duct tape and twinkies. And here in New Mexico, folks regularly fix ancient farm equipment with only duct tape and twinkies to hand.

In spite of such ingenuity, humans remain powerless in the face of Nature. It rains too much, or it rains too little, but it never rains just right. In Noah's shadow, we remain at the mercy of the elements, praying for rainbows.

So me and Cat are sending dry llano vibes back east. We are wishing like hell that we could do something more useful than that. Till then we cower at the thought of Nature, and our own shadows.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Dark arts

The days are numbered. Nighttime stars are turning into icicles. La Llorona's teeth chatter on the 2am riverbank where only weeks ago cricket song filled the void.

Leaves have gone through the various stages of grieving and come out at acceptance. Being dust ain't half bad if all your friends are dust too.

Halloween country.
Tis the season of little kids nestled in beds, visions of Halloween candy dancing in their heads.  Pumpkins are surrendering to the knife, while medium kids are busily sharpening their toilet-papering skills.

Big kids always get the short end of the October shtick. They must appear uninterested in all this childish crap, despite the certainty that as adults they will break down one day and confess to never having outgrown it. Thank goodness mine are still littles, and I'm already a broken grown-up.

You can't teach an old dog new tricks, but if La Llorona had any sense she'd pack in this business of child-terror in the bosque and get a snug cabin in the woods. Frightening campers on a part-time basis still affords time to keep the toes warm. Or maybe Hollywood, where the pay far exceeds what an undead working gal can eek out in a duck marsh.

But La Llorona - bless her - is a bit of a turnip, and pretty unmotivated for a psychopath. With a little more drive, she'd be spending October on the silver screen with the Trementina sisters of Guadalupe, instead of knee-deep in pond slime.

Seasonal witchcraft. 
I reckon the producers of 'Bless Me Ultima' couldn't have picked a better month to open the show in New Mexico. Rudolfo Anaya's masterpiece is a book that takes a greater interest in witchcraft than your average book. I think of it as Anaya's answer to Ray Bradbury's 'Something Wicked This Way Comes.'

The film premiered at the Lensic in Santa Fe on the 18th. It's a pretty cool movie, and very spiritually true to the book. I loved being there on opening night, and it was an honor to meet Anaya.

The film takes a brave linguistic stand, with dialogue moving freely between Spanish and English, as it would in real life. No screen space is wasted on subtitles. So while audiences in Vermont might miss some of the jokes, I applaud the decision not to dumb it down.

La Llorona may disagree with me of course. But that rather proves my point considering the whole turnip business, and the fact that her days aren't even numbered.

Monday, 15 October 2012

The girl who cried centipede

Once upon a time there was a little girl who did not share her mother's profound fear of mostly-harmless creatures. The girl and her mother lived in a peaceful hamlet, surrounded by green fields of real and imaginary fauna.

Nemesis centipede, a cousin of the Minotaur.
One day the girl and her mother were tending an invisible flock of crickets in the kitchen, when a ginormous centipede came out of nowhere and made a beeline for the mother's juicy ankles.

The quick-witted girl raised the alarm, whereupon her mother morphed into a giant shrieking chicken and climbed barefoot into the safety of the kitchen sink. Eventually the chicken-mother regained her humanity and offered the centipede a tupperware transport to the outside realm.

All returned to normal in the peaceful hamlet, except for one minor irritating detail. The girl, having apparently found this episode very amusing, took it upon herself to taunt her mother with cries of "CENTIPEDE ALARM!" every time the poor matron-in-distress tried to enter the kitchen to access her coffee supply.

The first dozen alarms sent the gullible mother running for the shelter of the sink, but eventually she learned to ignore her child's bug alarms. The bug alarms persist to this day like Old Faithful, in spite of the mother's consistent efforts to read to her child every night and securely hold her hand at all street crossings.

With such rampant abuses of the bug alarm system, the mother knows that it's only a matter of time till she meets her nemesis face to ankle. One day soon, the centipede will come marching again into the kitchen on his hundred nasty legs, thirsting for revenge, wielding nunchucks and dripping poison from his five-inch fangs.

On that fateful day of the centipede, the girl will raise the bug alarm, and the mother will take no notice. Then one of them will take it right in the ankle.

Till then, all is quiet in the peaceful hamlet where - thanks be to goodness - at least there are no wolves.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


Infant joy. 
In Spanish, the moon is feminine and the sun masculine. In German it's the reverse. Both languages agree that sun and moon share an unending vigil over earth. When one goes to bed the other rises.

I spent last week at my sister's home in the clouds. Each morning, I woke to church bells and sunshine through skylights. By day, I joined forces with my mama and my sister to hand-stitch a bird mobile for the newest family addition. By night I anticipated moonrise over the rooftops with my nephew.

Taking wing. 
I watched my niece wake from newborn sleep and focus her eyes on a face for the first time - no easy task for an infant. Now she passes the time staring intently at her mother sun and father moon, the bright spheres of her world.

It's a privilege to witness a baby waking. When one is occupied with the demanding business of being an infant sun-god, one just has to muddle through and try to survive. But as a mere witness to the sun-god transformation, it sure is easier to brush aside lovely little details like mastitis and neck poo. As witness, it only looks like a new day dawning and a fire lantern lifting off to light the night sky.

The sun and moon have my sympathy for the work ahead. Babies have a lamentable lack of consideration for normal working hours, and they don't understand that grown-ups have to pee and take the odd once-in-a-blue-moon shower for the purposes of mental health. Rising like the midnight sun to sooth a tiny, fuming insomniac sure feels like a never-ending hangover from a party that never happened.

But when you are important enough to watch over the seasons and the tide, that's just how it goes. In years to come (I am told) there will be time for pee and sleep. Till then, each 2am infant smile is like a tiny glimpse of heaven.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Dearly departed for space

Ana used to hang out with an imaginary boy called Kid who lived in her hand. He liked to put in an appearance on trains and buses  If it was a particularly exciting train or bus ride, sometimes Kid's mama would come out too (in the other hand).

Kid wandered off into the mists of growing older - to that great cabinet in the sky where all wonderful memories go that parents struggle to keep. In the end, it was just his time and we had to let him go.  

Not rocket science. 
Now Ana has found a new imaginary boy called Cookie Banane. Conveniently, Cookie was born on the same day as Ana. He loves cookies and bananas, and is in all other ways a pretty cool kid. 

The other day, Ana told me that Cookie Banane is in fact her brother, and that he comes from the farthest reaches of outer space. Since Ana used to have an older sister living on the moon, I wasn't completely shocked. Then she told me that Cookie Banane is in heaven.  

A memory returned to me in a flash, of all the childhood nights that I tried desperately to keep my sleepy eyelids open, terrified that I would fall asleep and never wake up. As a kid, I wasted a lot of valuable Barbie playtime worrying about the Great Beyond. 

Our new drive to town passes by a final resting place, where engraved stone angels wait quietly in the prairie grass for the living to join them. Ana is curious about the angels. So on a recent drive in we talked about things like time passing on, dust returning, and love living on like starlight. 

She listened to me trying to make sense of the infinite and the impossible for a long time. Eventually she grew bored and realized that we were wasting valuable Barbie playtime, so she pulled out her engineering ancestry to end the conversation.

"Heaven is on the sun," said Ana. "We'll just build a rocket to get there."

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Things that go bump in the mind

A monster lives under Ali's bed. Cliche, but true. Ali's monster knows he doesn't exist. He's been told a thousand times, yet he persists.

The monster comes out in the dark and disappears with the flick of a light switch. He's in league with the wind, the bats, and occasionally even the windmill outside. The monster has deep, painful scars.
I thought I could, I thought I could.

At bedtime, I ninja-kick the monster, and Papa drags his hairy carcass to the door. When he returns, Grampo punches him till his teeth fall out like glitter, and Ali bites him with her tiger teeth. Then we hoist him onto a spit and gather for a monster BBQ (monsters taste like chicken).

But the monster slogs ever onward on like Casey Junior. The childhood brain is cavernous - like chasing a bubble under plastic, the monster just goes to another mental corner when pursued.

After bedtime is declared, there is always the squeak of a doorknob, the pitter-patter of frightened feet, and the world's littlest whisper: "I'm afraid of the monster!"

If you prick me, do I not bleed?
Most nights, the best defense is to lay there together, camouflaged in a blankety snuggle against the elements of imagination. Eventually, the combined snores of mama and daughter convince the monster that it's safe to drop tools and skulk back to Monsterland for another night, there to seek medical attention for lost teeth.

I like to picture the monster as I fall asleep on guard duty. In my mind, he is a kicked dog gripping a styrofoam cup of weak tea in some faceless, suburban NHS monster dental clinic.

He mumbles to himself, quietly cursing Maurice Sendak for giving his kind a bad name. He traces the outline of where his teeth used to be with the tip his tongue, and his fingertips wince as they run over tiny tiger teeth marks on his arms. He wishes he could forget the cold feeling of hard earth under his backside, and how piercing the stars look when he finds himself alone again in the darkness on the wrong side of the door.

"I coulda been somebody", he insists to the empty NHS waiting room. One of these days he'll pack it all in and run off with the circus.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Cricket song

Crickets are meant to be good luck.

I missed their song in England, but one month back on the llano has cured me of pining after crickets. Out here a gazillion of them engage in a nightly screaming banshee contest.

If crickets are lucky, my house is the luckiest home in human history. Every day, I discover a new house cricket stowaway from the outside. House crickets are twitchy and missing limbs, because it's a bug eat bug world out there.

Gather ye crickets while ye may. 
Ana, devoted stalker of fauna, found a house cricket last week. Being four, she scooped him up and promised to love him forever.

He was a reluctant pet at first, but after being plied with chocolate biscuits, he warmed to her. He eventually climbed up her arm to her shoulder, and here he stayed.

Ana continued to declare eternal love, so I quietly mentioned that her cricket was wild, and he would return to the wild. She would have to let him go.

"Look, he likes me!" she giggled, while my words soared over her head and smacked into the opposite wall (which is now coated in boring parental warnings).

Ana's cricket stayed through breakfast and lunch, happily binding his fate to that of the biscuit-giver.

Mid-morning, we went on a long family walk through fields of alfalfa stubble and fluorescent yellow sunflowers. The cricket perched on his girl's shoulder, politely listening to running commentary on lizards (good for soup), and celestial imaginary friends (accessible only by rocket).

I walked behind the pair and wondered why I'd tried to warn Ana, considering that science has repeatedly shown childhood ears to be incapable of perceiving parental words of caution. To compound the problem, engineers have been so busy constructing suspension bridges and the interwebs that they've not yet gotten around to designing a USB cable capable of fitting into human ears.

New wild pet candidate. 
Perhaps I tried to warn my child because - as my kindergarten teacher said all those years ago - I AM A WORRIER.

While I worried about this, the cricket vanished. Ana fell apart. She searched in vain for her lost cricket. She didn't want to hear me talk about wild creatures and the wilderness.

Then Papa said a very simple, very wise thing that really helped: "It's sad to lose a friend," he said. "And it's okay to be sad."

In five minutes she was up again, hunting for new wild pets. 

Ana is resilient. She gets over these things quicker than I do. Unfortunately there is no technological means for her to transfer this capability to me. Here in the year 2012, we have duct tape and sliced bread, but still no human wisdom USB cable.


Monday, 10 September 2012

Fear and food chains

I'm not the only one who goes through life in mortal terror of rattlesnakes.

The other morning, I stepped off my porch and met a pair of baby cottontail bunnies huddled together, deep in an innocent sunrise sleep. Possessing little experience in the wildlife gender determination department, I decided on the spot that the two were sisters. 

Flopsy and Mopsy. 
My footsteps woke the sisters. Their eyes flew open and they trembled in fear. As with wildlife gender determination, I'm a beginner when it comes to interpreting rabbit winks. My best guess is that they wanted to know if I was a giant two-legged snake-beast out looking for breakfast. But they hopped off before I could ask. 

When I first moved to La Luna, the local Fauna Committee sent a team of scorpions and hornets to welcome me. I've met many quieter, subtler creatures since then who, like me, are tricky to locate because of a mortal fear of snakes. 

Serendipity is the fun part anyway. Wild turkeys leave feathers and footprints around my yard, always a step ahead. Chance glances at garage ceilings reveal perfectly still bats waiting patiently for nightfall. 

At dusk, my porch light is greatest hub of insect activity in the known universe. Seriously, if you are an entomologist, get in touch - you should meet my porch light. 

Night falls and the swarm dances. Those at the bottom of the bug food chain repeatedly thwack their heads on the light bulb and fail to learn from the experience. Those at the top devour those at the bottom. My porch-watching research indicates that in general, it's a good idea to avoid being the butt of any food chain where preying mantises are involved. 

The bugs are not alone. Slowly, and only when they suspect my children have finally toddled off to bed, the toads join the party. Outnumbered by a million to one, the toads are the world's laziest hunters.  

Prince Charming, not charmed. 
I suspect the toads quit eating around four in the morning when the site of one more delicious bug would make them explode, thus rendering their escape from my nearly-wakeful children impossible. But I've never stayed up past about eight-thirty to check.

Some nights the toads are out-smarted. Like last night, when a pair of sisters lay silently in bed with eyes wide open till long after the moon has risen. When quiet finally crept over the house around eight-thirty, the sisters escaped out the door and onto the porch. 

The toads had nowhere to run. They were kissed, then catapulted off the porch when they failed to develop prince-like qualities.

The poor toads have good reason to fear my children, because this trauma is very likely to be repeated again next week.  

Everybody's afraid of somebody. 

Monday, 3 September 2012

All those who can

I was converted to the Paralympic cause at Sydney twelve years ago. I haven't attended since then, but I remain a fan. 

I think of the Paralympic athletes as ninja snowflakes: unique and totally capable of kicking my butt. I suspect they're not bothered, but nevertheless I wouldn't want to anger them. 

Taking part. (National Media Museum)
I misted up last week when I heard a BBC World Service radio broadcast from Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire, birthplace of the Parlympics and youngest my daughter.

The broadcast cut between Stoke and Stratford to mark the opening ceremony. At one point an announcer said: "All those who can, please stand for the national anthem."

I sat up a little straighter in the driver's seat of my borrowed truck, and hummed along to a borrowed tune, all the while speeding over the barren llano a million miles from London. Everyone takes part in their own way. 

All those who can, please follow along with OneArmGirl, who is in my second hometown for the event. Feel free to sit while you read her excellent posts. 

Monday, 27 August 2012


Like everyone and their sister, I hate flying.

I've flown more than usual this past month, which means I've become reacquainted with Texas, a vast state scientifically shown to have no actual beginning or end. To get beyond Texas, a pilot must engage the hyperdrive and jump to another dimension.
Chicken, couped.

Post-Texas-hyperdrive on an Albuquerque-bound flight, the landscape opens into a sunny upland of arroyos and red earth, leading to the majestic Sandias.

En route from London, I glimpsed sunbeams falling through rain clouds at just this point, and I thought of William Blake discovering angels in the treetops. I reckon the view on descent into Albuquerque is the most spiritual experience a plane-hater can have in a plane.

Most recently flying in from Florida, I missed my homecoming view because my flight had to circumvent a massive thunderboomer squatting angrily over the Sandias.

Over thunderboomer, roger.
Let me tell you, there is nothing like being tossed about in a tin can in a thundercloud to make you closely examine your views on life, the universe, and everything. 

Living in England made me miss the word "thunderboomer", and the consequent experiences with nature that are both pants-wettingly scary and awesomely beautiful.

Another thing I missed in England was American airplane-speak. Phrases like: "complimentary beverage", "where the local time is approximately 9:32 and three-quarters", and my favorite: "de-plane".  

After flying through a Texas time-warp and a gigantic pants-wetting thunderboomer, my plane finally touched down. There were sighs of relief, a hallelujah chorus, and some discussion of how pants-wettingly scary flying around that thunderboomer was. Then, the clatter of everyone de-seat-belting. 

General Armageddon. 
At which point a flight attendant scowled and reached for the intercom. "The captain has not turned off the fasten seat belts sign," she said tersely. "Please remain seated with your seat belt securely fastened-"


The flight attendant's eye began to twitch violently. "Ladies and gentlemen, it is not yet time to de-plane-"


"I SAID sit down! Before I jump over de emergency exit row and smack you with de complimentary beverage cart!!"

I'm paraphrasing. Seat belts were hastily replied. 

Finally de-planed, I drove out onto the llano, and straight into the storm. I kept an eye out for locusts, tornadoes, and general Armageddon.

I ordered and collected one very soggy pizza on my way home, returning home just shy of the hale. Chewing on soggy pizza, I thought about how strange it is that angels and airplanes so often share de same airspace. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Hummingbird feeder

Last week I wrote about the rare New Mexican boa constricter and backside-biting velociraptor-ants. Perhaps I overemphasized the peril of my situation.

Bright and beautiful. 
So regular readers (hello Mom!) may be relieved to know that not all local fauna is bent on my destruction. In fact, there is one creature round these parts with good intentions towards me: hummingbirds.

And it's hummingbird season, though not for long.

Merely walnut-sized, hummingbirds are decked out in more sequins than the Milky Way. They dance gracefully, dangerously, at a million miles an hour with the agility of of insects and the artistry of birds.

Best of all, they are generous. All you have to do to get them dancing in front of your window is to put a little sugar water out for them. Though not magpies, they are major suckers for bright, shiny red feeders.

Creatures great and small. 
Ana and I refill the feeders every few days. She and the hummers have something in common: a sweet tooth. We brew 'hummingbird tea' for the feeders together. She pours whatever is leftover into a porcelain cup for herself.

She drinks delicately from the porcelain cup until her patience for such niceties runs out. Then she lifts the entire saucepan to her lips to get every last drop of sugar water, licking the rim of the pot to be sure.

I suspect my Ana may have been an actual hummingbird in a past life. My evidence is this:
  1. A profound desire to eat sugar. 
  2. A talent for getting sugar out of her gullible mother. 
  3. A love of bright things.
  4. A generous spirit. 
  5. An ability to buzz around me at a gabillion miles per millisecond. 
I will miss the hummingbirds when they dance quietly away into autumn. And Ana will surely miss licking hummingbird tea from pots.

Monday, 13 August 2012

There's a snake in my boot

"Look Mama, my sister has a snake!"

This phrase pretty much tops the list of alarming things a mother can hear her four-year old say about her two-year old.

Upon hearing it, I went running to find my grinning, barefoot toddler casually twirling a snake on the doorstep. What initially looked to be a rare ten-foot New Mexican boa constrictor, turned out upon closer inspection to be a five-inch garden snake. Ali had him in a tight pincer grasp by the tail, and the unfortunate snake wore a rather bored expression as if to say: "oh boy, not this again."

Garden-variety gorgon. 
Since my brave other half wasn't there to do something sensible, I squawked about like an idiot for several minutes. Then I managed to de-snake my toddler, shove both barefoot kids inside, fetch a glass bowl, and chuck the snake over the fence.

My good friend, the wise OneArmGirl, witnessed this event, and remained calmer. Afterwards, she managed to nearly convince me that the snake didn't actually seem bent on my destruction.

I wish I could say this was an isolated episode. But just yesterday morning I reached for a plum and nearly grabbed scorpion instead. I flapped about like an idiot for several minutes, before noticing that the scorpion was trapped in my fruit bowl by steep ceramic sides. Thus he was incapable of escaping to the kitchen counter, where he would surely charge me like a furious ninja devoid of mercy and compassion.

While I envisioned the gory details of this certain outcome my brave other half - who was fortunately on hand for this incident - casually picked up the bowl and walked the scorpion to the door. Then he reassured me with moderate success that scorpions are not actually ninjas.

But I remain concerned. I have reason to believe they are all out to get me. You see, just the day before yesterday I stepped on a hornet lurking in the carpet of my kid's room, and he promptly stung the crap out of my right foot.
The scorpions are restless. 

Not long after, I was out walking around when I felt something truly vicious - at the time I assumed bear or velociraptor - bite me right in the backside.

There is simply no dignified or modest way to figure out what is biting you in the backside. Should you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, you will need to crack out the Jim Carey moves and - depending on the severity of the bite - risk an obscenity charge for de-pantsing in public.

It turns out that 'ants in the pants' is not just an expression. In the insult to injury department, being bitten by a velociraptor that turns out to be a mere de-pantsing ant doesn't exactly make you look tough.

Things have been quiet since the snake-twirling incident. But I remain on high alert. A decade in England - where the most dangerous local creature is a pub landlord - did little to prepare me for ninja-bugs.

I always tell my children to be gentle with things that are smaller than them: babies, animals, bugs, etc. However, now that the local bug population appears to be turning me into the butt of their jokes, I may reconsider my peaceful position.

I suspect attacks will continue apace. There is likely a gang of local rattlesnakes with my mugshot, just waiting for the right moment to strike. I stand ready to defend myself with a fruit bowl, and two barefoot children.