True stories with a twist!

Archive for the ‘Irony, humor, animals, family’ Category


Since it is June, and time for gardens, I present an important tip about gardens. We are always told to “Read the Instructions” before using any garden product. Especially products containing poisons. That would include products made for the elimination of garden pests.

We cannot be the only gardeners with the frustrating issue of chipmunks. We all say that we wouldn’t mind sharing our garden produce with these irritating and destructive little animals, but they won’t share. These cute curmudgeons take little bites out of tomatoes, ruining a tomato from ever bring enjoyed by the grower. That makes us angry. So angry that we forget our humanity and want a way to destroy these pests, At any price. Just get rid of them, we beg to the Gardening Gods.

One summer afternoon, in a fit of rage over terrible damages to our beautiful Hibiscus plants,


Harried Husband furiously decided to find a way to get revenge. So off to the gardening supply store he went, determined to do away with the pests and make them regret ever cavorting in our garden. Shades of the children’s tale, “Peter Rabbit” floated through my mind. In those childhood days I always rooted for the rabbit. The farmer, whose crop he stole from, was the villain. But not any more. Now it’s “Go Farmers: down with Varmints.”

He came home determinedly, unscrewed to top of a strong looking, dark colored bottle and started pouring the noxious brew directly onto the hibiscus plant. The healthy, bright, cheerful Hibiscus.

That was the end. The leaves of the plant blackened, the flowers wilted, and we gasped in horror.IMG_0222.jpeg

The potion that should have deterred furry little animals from nibbling on hibiscus flowers destroyed the plant instead. Chipmunks: 10, humans: 0.  Is there no retribution for the damage they foisted on those innocent flowers?

 All we know is that beauty was destroyed in the hope of taking revenge on perpetrators of a crime against nature.

So who won? And what was the message we can take away from this incident? And what should we do about those darn chipmunks?





Our backyard is the perfect snowscape. The delicate tree branches are coated with ice, making them look as shiny and delicate as a backyard of silver chandeliers.

The snow covered hill is our miniature Swiss Alp.

Thriving in this winter scene is a family of three squirrels. They’re either a family or a kinky group of very close friends. They romp around, chase each other up and down trees, dig snow tunnels and search for food. The main source of their food foraging is our set of dual bird feeders. Each feeder hangs from a single hook on a double pole. The squirrels have no problems shimmying up the pole, reaching over to the feeder, and helping themselves to squirrelly-stomach-warming meals of birdseed.Unknown

But technology has caught up to their never-ending nefarious nips nabbed from the birds. The new feeder is equipped with a battery controlled balance bar. The circular bar spins around if a weight heavier than a blue jay alights. Like the weight of a squirrel.
Is there a funnier sight than a squirrel sailing through the air as if shot from a circus cannon? He is not hurt, just a bit puzzled. And he is just as hungry as he was before his aerial catapult.

Now the squirrel brain springs into action. At this point it is man vs. rodent in an unending battle of wills.To stop him from shimmying up the pole we install a cone-shaped baffle, putting an end to his attempt to scale the pole and reach the feeder.

Unknown-1Squirrel is befuddled. He comes up with Plan B: the Big Jump. He steadies himself on a snow bank and leaps onto the top of the baffle. He has won! Or so he thinks: now he places one paw on the balance bar to steady himself while he reaches for his tasty reward, when “Whirr”: he is flying through the air. He experiences instant squirrel shock. This has never happened to him or his ancestors before.

Time for Plan C.

Squirrel, still determined, jumps onto the baffle top again. This time, instead of placing a paw on the bar he continues to climb to the top of the pole. Now above the feeders, he stretches his body down to meet the mouth of the feeder, and manages a few seeds before we see him, open the kitchen door and emit bloodthirsty screams. The startled squirrel jumps off the baffle.

Man’s turn: we now coat the baffle with a heavy coat of gooey, greasy engine oil. Now when the marauder prepares for his leap he lands, skids and slides right off, executing an Olympic caliber somersault.
Squirrel sits on the ground, looking longingly at the bird feeders above. “My kingdom for a few sunflower seeds. Husked, of course.”

The sad sight of the hungry squirrel looking so defeated and unhappy moves me. The snow on the ground has become solid ice, making it look like a vanilla Carvel ice cream cake. How can any animal find food in a frozen tundra?

Anyway what harm do squirrels do? They don’t destroy plants by eating roots, they don’t kill plants by nipping at new growth, they don’t tunnel underground, making the lawn collapse. Are they so bad?

All he longs for, in his dearest squirrel fantasies, are a few little handfuls of sunflower seeds. My conscience asks me “Must you deprive the little fellow of a life sustaining meal?”

So I get to work. Off comes the baffle on the feeder. Out comes the battery that rotates the balance bar.

I stop short of installing a ladder to the feeder to help squirrel realize his quest.

“Enjoy, little friend,” I say. “It’s been a tough winter for everybody.”


Furious swooshing, whooshing and splashing water greets intruders of the secluded, romantic and peaceful back yard. Jumping, twisting and chasing meet our eyes. What have we stumbled into? What X Rated scene is going on in our own back yard?  In the pond?

The pond is usually the calmest, most peaceful place in the garden. The quiet, dreamy hideaway offers surprises like the beautiful, colorful koi pond. The Koi smoothly glide by, unperturbed by human worries, blissfully involved in fishy meditations.

Unexpectedly and abruptly, the scene changes from one of contentment to a maddening chase. There is rapid, panicky, hysterical action swishing through the water. “What is going on?”

Have demons of the deep pervaded the pond? Has the Loch Ness Monster slivered into it? Is“Jaws,” threatening to invade the peaceful Koi Kingdom?

This is spring fever in the wild. Spring fever may turn a human young man’s heart to thoughts of love, but springtime turns Koi thoughts to breeding. There are no charming mating dances that some birds perform, or showy, flirtatious showing off of colors seen in other species. No songs of love and devotion. This is raw, violent, passionate need, graphically clear to anyone indecent enough to watch. Suddenly, unexpectedly there is a violent, ardent chase: the pursuit of males after females.  The females swim away for cover, but the males surge in power to overtake them. The females often bruise their bodies on the pond’s rocks as they move to escape marauding males with mating on their minds. This destructive behavior is reminiscent of scenes from “Shades of Gray.”

The plants get pulled up by the roots, the water gets splashed out from pond to patio in the violence of their chases.

And then, in a few hours, all is quiet again. Peace reigns. The female Koi have dropped their eggs and the males have fertilized them. Relaxation returns.

Shortly after the orgy something looks different in the water. Upon closer inspection we see microscopic eggs. My husband, Harvey, gets the fish net and swoops a batch of them out and places them into a three gallon plastic pail. “Let’s see if we can save any. If we leave the eggs in the pond the Koi will eat them.”

So the mass of water plants filled with eggs lies at rest in a work sink in our basement. Harvey puts an aerator into the pail to oxygenate the water. And we wait. Will they hatch?

In a few days this is what we see:

As a life long fish enthusiast and collector Harvey knows what to do next. “If we have any hopes of keeping these babies alive we have to find a way to get some nourishment into those little bellies.” Now that they have advanced from eggs to baby fish he moves them into a five gallon tank, where they have room to swim around.

One trip to the Dover Pet Shop and he comes home with a small container of a product called “Baby Bites.” This stuff is as powerful to Koi as spinach is to Popeye. Look at the change in those little guys in a single week; they are starting to look like fish. They even have those black, button eyes that baby fish have. Not Koi yet, but recognizable as a member of the fish family nonetheless. They are beginning to exhibit some of the Koi colors: mostly orange and yellow. The experts tell us that in a year they will be the size of Guppies. Which means it will take at least two years for them to resemble the traditional Japanese fish, the Koi.

20120607-043113.jpgWatching the development of the tiny tank  critters has become a daily occupation. They change and grow before our eyes.

Some day when they are grown perhaps some can be returned to the pond. Maybe they will be part of the serene, romantic, peaceful scene. Or maybe they will be members of a future orgy some time in the future.


I didn’t want a fish. I don’t want a fish. Anything but another fish in this house. How many do we have, thanks to my husband’s hobby?

He has two salt water tanks, two fresh water tanks, and a koi pond outside. So a fish of my own was not what I longed for.

But it was my friend’s big birthday, she loves animals and critters, and I thought a small unobtrusive tank with one colorful Siamese Fighting Fish would be a cheerful addition to her kitchen. Her kitchen decor is overwhelmingly  blue, so I bought a blue one with long, sensual, diaphanous fins. She would love it.

But before I could present her with this sensational and thoughtful gift, she said to me,  “I’m tired of taking care of everything. As of this birthday I don’t want one more thing to take care of.”

Not even a little blue fish,? I think. After making her wishes so clear I can’t possible give her the one thing more she doesn’t want to take care of.

So here I am, stuck with fish-sitting HER fish for a few years. How long do Siamese Fighting Fish live? I wonder.

I call him/her (?)  Sparky and set its little tank in the center of the kitchen counter, surrounded by my white begonias and red kalanchoe. Suddenly my kitchen is quite bright and patriotic: red, white and blue! “OK, Sparky: dinner time!”, I say, as I drop one pellet at a time into the water. Sparky zooms up to the top to fetch his reward. He zeros in, flapping his little fins with joy, as he consumes each pellet.

Every morning I come into the kitchen and put the light on at the top of his tank. “Good morning, Sparks,” I find myself saying. “How are you today?”

He zooms to the top, recognizing a human presence nearby, hoping in his little fish heart that the human has a treat for him. His fins are working overtime. They remind me of a car’s windshield wipers adjusted to run at maximum speed.

It’s almost a year since Sparky’s arrival, and I notice a change in his behavior. Now when I drop a pellet into the tank he wanders around pathetically, trying to find it. “It’s up here, Sparkles,” I say reassuringly. I even tap lightly on the tank cover, trying to help him locate his food. I see him snap at something, only to watch the pellet float down to the bottom of the tank.

Sparky seems to be blind!

I didn’t want a fish, and now I have a handicapped, special needs fish. I feel sad and sorry for such an innocent harmless creature, who cannot even find his pellet of food in a tank the size of a basketball.

But Sparky is part of our family now, and he can expect good care in every way I can give it.

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