Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Brief Guest

Damon found it this time - stunned after having apparently flown into a window. (The bird, not Damon.)

"Please, Mom, please...promise me you won't put it in an orange box!"

After about 10 minutes it had recovered enough to sit in a bush, allowing me to finally take a wildlife picture of something besides an animal posterior, and shortly after that, it flew away.


Identification pending, possibly a Swainson's Thrush.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Three AM Ushanka

Last night, our first big thunderstorm of the year rolled through during the wee sma's. The terrified animals woke Jack up, and he woke me up, at least for a couple of minutes.

As the lightning flashed and the thunder roared all around and right over the top of us, Clancy moaned, howled, and barked. If he thought he could scare it off, he was mistaken.

Diesel was different, though no less terrified. Jack tried to hold him close, and turned over to cradle him more tightly. I snuggled up and got ready to go back to sleep. Diesel wiggled his way loose and started to try and worm his way in between us. I held on tight, but he made it in anyway. Then he laid down with his nose up to my chin, and purred frenetically. The scarier it got, the louder he purred.

Several times my slumber was disturbed by that poor cat as he went back and forth between hiding under the covers and wrapping himself around our heads like a demented Russian fur hat.


The storm didn't bother me a bit, but it was pretty hard to sleep through the cat. Never mind the barkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbark.

May 29, 2010

Another, smaller t-storm came by shortly after 2 this morning. The barkbarkbark woke me up, and I wondered what Diesel was doing. It felt like a rock was pressed against the back of my knees, so I checked there first.

Diesel curled there into a solid little ball, unmoving except for his lips. Over and over he whispered to himself, "There's no place like home! There's no place like home!"

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Public Service Announcment

They buried the broken body of our next-door neighbor, Elaine Jones, yesterday. It was one week to the day after her death.

Lainie had the distinction of being the only resident in town on the Montana Sexual or Violent Offender Registry (her conviction was for a violent offense). Whatever her past may have been, she was a very quiet neighbor while we lived here. If it wasn't for the dogs, you would have a hard time even telling that someone lived there.

More than how she lived, this post is about how she died.

Traveling westbound on the highway, she lost control of her pickup and drove into the ditch on the right-hand side. The vehicle rolled several times before coming to a stop against a small hill.

People are killed even while wearing their seatbelts, however virtually no people survive being ejected from their vehicle and having it come to rest, upside down, on top of them. Lainie was no exception.

It's impossible to know if she would have survived with a seatbelt, but without one her chances dropped to approximately zero. According to US News & World Report in 2008, although 84% of people were wearing seatbelts, 55% of all traffic accident fatalities were unbuckled. Of those, the odds were even worse at night. Of the more than 12,000 people who died in night-time accidents in '08, two-thirds were unbuckled.

Just as with Naaman being told to wash in the river, fastening your seatbelt is such a simple, easy thing. Just an extra couple of seconds, and it can save your life.

No flowers stand beside the road at the scene of the accident. Only some torn-up sod and an orange arrow point to the spot where a woman lost her life.

Please, buckle up!
Noni Beth

Don't Talk to Strangers...

...or around them, either.

Dad and the boys left for California this morning. The boys have a fun-filled summer with their grandparents - helping pack and receiving targeted tutoring in several school subjects. Wheee!

They stopped in Glendive, which is the same town you'll be reading about soon, as we've already had some adventures there. The boys were still in line at the convenience store when Dad was done, so he went and sat in the car and watched.

The boys stood there behind a father and son, and Devon began to do something naughty. The father, thinking it was HIS son being naughty, whirled around and whapped Devon on the head.

[Pause so I can laugh hysterically. Again. And again. And again.]

Devon was not amused.

You can bet that the next time he wants to be naughty in public, with none of his grownups within arm's reach, that he's going to be looking all squinty-like at everyone else around him. Is that guy over there a whapper? He could be - he looks kind of like he might whap somebody...

Now, I've had a few close calls almost chewing out strange children who looked like mine, however I have always caught myself short of actually laying hands on them. If one of them had been Devon, it might have been different.

Until the next whap,
Noni Beth

Sorry there weren't any pictures.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Staying Dry

Right now, below the pictures of Devon, is a Carhartt ad for waterproof jackets.

"Keeps moisture out, not in."

Song Without Words

Bismarck, Take 2

This was clear back in February. My bad. I have even older posts still to come. My worse.

Our second trip to the dentist was less eventful than the first, at the first. We had just enough time to stop at the interpretive center/rest area, which the rugrats DID NOT want to leave when it was time.

They touched and tried on virtually everything, even a buffalo robe, in less than five minutes. You can see how well Devon fared from having a buffalo pelt rubbed on his head, in case you ever wondered what Native American bed-head looks like. (If you haven't read it before, Jack and all 3 kids are members of the Sac & Fox tribe in Oklahoma.)

We raced on to the dentist, arriving just on time to his fabulously decorated and wildly colorful tribute to vintage automotive Americana. The doc even wears scrubs made to look like a mechanic's uniform!

Damon's favorite part, as before, was seeing his dental work projected onto a large TV up on the wall. Weird little kid. Must take after his dad, know what I mean?

The roads in town were better than before. You could actually see some of the lines between the lanes, and I had to drive by imagination (or Braille) much less of the time. The snow mountains by Taco Bell had grown, not so much taller as much wider.

It was dark and foggy by the time we left Minot, less than half-way home. Did I mention it was foggy? I'll spare you (meaning myself) the gory details, but I ended up taking a wrong turn and driving even farther out of my way than I had the previous trip! Tina joked that I was the author of the critically acclaimed travel guide, "99 Ways to NOT Come Home from Bismarck".

Pfft, says I. Minot might as well be a corn maze, and I challenge her to do any better! A map blight upon her and her children.

Very late, and very, very tired, we finally dragged in and staggered to bed. All except me, who had to carry a zillion groceries in from the car and put them away.

Why, oh why did I stop in Minot to go to Wal Mart?

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ode to a Grouse

She was here for such a short time, just like my eight baby ducks.

The kids found her down by the track (the running track, as opposed to the train tracks), with an injured wing and leg. Clancy did his best to put her out of her misery, doubtless thinking she was a fluffy rat, but Devon succeeded in catching her anyway. At first we thought she might be a pheasant, and she was duly named Fezzy. A quick google search confirmed that she was actually a sharp-tailed grouse, but the name stuck anyway.

An orange box was the quickest and best solution for a hospital pen, with its precut holes and strong lid to keep the cat out. She wasn't exactly happy, but she wasn't being eaten out in the rain and snow, either.

The next day she was maintaining ok; no better but no worse, and very bright and alert. That's how she was right before I left to pick up the kids from school, and when I got home she was dead.

Here's what happened.

Unbeknownst to me, Devon rode the school bus home, and was already there getting into mischief while I sat in front of the school wondering what was taking him so long. He got here, invited one of his friends in to see the grouse even with no grownup home (a BIG no-no!), and lifted the box lid just a little so they could see Fezzy better (another big no-no).

He didn't notice when he closed the lid that Fezzy had stuck her head out a hole on the other side, and her head became trapped. He was heartbroken and considerably in denial when I got home a short time later and figured out what had happened.

I thought it over for a while before I made up my mind. The unfortunate death had been an accident, but Devon's life is a whole series of unfortunate accidents, and I wanted to be sure he learned a deep lesson. So I told him to bury Fezzy himself.

About 30 seconds later he was back in the house. "Ok, I'm done."

I fixed him with a fishy glare. "Devon, I KNOW what happened out there."

He clutched his innocence a bit tighter. "What do you mean?"

Gimlet eyed, "You know what I mean!"

"But...but...but...I did bury her! Really!"

"Fine - show me."

A look of horror crossed his face. "But it's sooooo COLD out there!!!!!!" He clutched his scrawny arms to his chest and shivered dramatically.

I continued putting on my coat. "That's all right - I'll just go by myself."

His sigh could have knocked the leaves off a good-sized tree. "All right. I'll bury her this time."

Checking out the back window several times, I could see that he was in the right area to be conducting a burial, and he stayed out a lot longer, too. Finally he came back inside and announced proudly that he had buried her "real deep". He held up his fingers about two inches apart to show me the vast amount of dirt he had sprinkled over Fezzy.

Damon was quite worried that she might only be stunned, and not dead. I reassured him, thinking to myself, that's ok; if she's not dead she can just get up and walk away.

After what I did to the ducklings, I have nothing but sympathy for Devon in his sorrow. The neighbor gave us eight adorable ducklings when I was probably right about Devon's age. They followed us all over, for the short time we had them.

I took them swimming in the little wading pool, and how happy they were! They quacked and paddled all over, wiggling with joy. As the minutes wore on, I noticed they weren't floating as well as they had been. I remember trying to hold them up out of the water, but with 8 ducks and only two hands and two feet I couldn't get them all at once.

The next thing I remember is calling for Mom & Dad, carrying an armful of limp-necked ducks and begging them to fix it. To their credit, they tried. They even gave mouth-to-beak resuscitation. It was no use. All 8 of them ended up in an unmarked grave, albeit much deeper than Devon's effort. After all, Dad was the one digging.

They even went back to the neighbor and got another eight ducklings, having every confidence that after they got done explaining to me why ducklings don't float for long, that I wouldn't take them swimming again. And I didn't.

Devon's stories rarely have an Uncle Arthur ending. "...And after that, little Johnny learned to never disobey his mother again." In fact, most of his stories end with, "...And wait till you hear about the next time Devon did the very same thing!"

I'm sure he will disobey again. In fact, he's already disobeyed quite a few times since yesterday. However, I have a great deal of confidence that Devon will never kill another sharp-tailed grouse with an orange box ever again.

Until the next adventure,
Noni Beth