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.