Damned Squirrels

I went to the Strybing Arboretum yesterday and a pack of damned squirrels followed me around.

They’re absolutely fearless. They come right up to your pant legs and start pulling on them. The beggars.

You can’t feed them (supposedly, there are signs warning against it) and I didn’t have any food on me at all, not even a stick of chewing gum. I don’t know why they followed me. They should have taken the hint that I hate squirrels.

I guess they’re not well-versed in telepathy.

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A Squirrel’s Tail/Tale

One day this spring, I opened the front door to get my morning newspaper.

At either side of my front door are two enormous yew bushes. They are about three feet tall, six feet deep and fifteen feet across. They are positioned under each window. It was probably a landscaping coup back in the 1940s when they were planted, but now they are overgrown. In the spring, I can’t even see out of the windows until they are trimmed. Homeless people could live behind each bush, and I’d never know it. (I’ve seen homeless people living under smaller bushes than mine out in San Francisco, so I know it can be done.)

This space between the bush and house is large enough for a man, but other than that is useless.

This one frosty morning, I happened to glance to the left as I bent over to retrieve my paper. That’s when I saw it.

A squirrel’s tail.

A black squirrel’s tail. It was just laying there right under the window.

How it got there, I don’t know. I didn’t know what happened to the rest of the squirrel. I can only assume that it belongs to the black squirrel with the short stubby tail. The end of his tail is ringed with white hair.

I think this weekend, I will go to the store and gaze longingly at weapons of squirrel ass destruction.

Critters, Ducks and Other Water Fowl: Off-Topic From Squirrels

About fifteen years ago, the Demonic family lived in a far northern suburb. We were so far north, we were almost in the next county. Back in those days, it was desirable to move far away from the metropolitan center. When the Mr and I first married, we moved to a relatively close northern suburb. After four years and a most positive change in fortune, we found a beautiful French colonial atop a hilly lot, far, far away from everything, and that’s where we stayed for a long time. What snapped me out of genteel suburban living was having to drive back into town for school and work five days a week. Most days, we spent a good hour on the road, and that was just getting there. Add to the mix a major snowstorm, unexpected road construction or fatal car crash, and that road time all of a sudden expanded into three hours or more – one way.

Still, it was nice to be out so far, yet still enjoy the civility of manicured lawns and nearby neighbors with which to share barbecues and play dates. However, there was a downside, and that was the wildlife situation.

Up there, there are squirrels, but squirrels are in the minority. Those squirrels would have to fight with opossums, wood chucks, skunks and other creatures for their share of the pest pie. In fact, the biggest pest in that area would be skunks. We trapped fourteen of them in one summer, one right after another. Before you think I did this on my own, I should clarify. We hired a pest control company to rid us of the family of varmints that were nesting under our deck. At $40 a pop, we probably should have moved back to town several years earlier.

The other form of pestilence in the northern suburbs would be waterfowl. Ducks are present, but our neighborhood was scourged with a preponderance of Canadian geese. Ordinarily, I don’t have any beefs against Canadians, but I have to complain about their geese. Entire large flocks would congregate at the neighborhood lake, making the sand and boat ramp slick with birdie doo-doo. The lake was thick with floating goose byproducts, thus making swimming uncomfortable at the least and a health risk at the most. During the summer, when the temperature climbs to the high 90s with a 100% humidity reading, one likes to take a dip into the lake, especially when one is married to the Tightwad known as Mr. Demonic, a man who wouldn’t buy central air conditioning. (He has, of course, accepted it if it was already installed in the house.)

Our Canadian geese were fat and tired. They never migrated south, nor did they ever move back to Canada. The reason for this is painfully clear. We had neighbors who fed them daily. Why fly to Mexico in the winter when you can survive on Aunt Bessie’s bread crumbs today? Once a year, the neighborhood would pay to have the geese rounded up and taken elsewhere. This was done right at molting, when they couldn’t fly away. Of course, after the feathers came in, they flew back to the comfort of their old neighborhood, so it was a lose-lose system. Terribly flawed.

My backyard neighbors in that subdivision had a pool. Having a pool is a good thing if your lake is infested with geese. The mother, a gorgeous blond who had four children but still looked like a Hollywood starlet, or at least a retired cheerleader, stayed at home and cared for the pool, which was not fenced. They never invited us over to the pool, but that was cool. She kept Mr. Demonic entertained, as she laid out looking quite fetching in her bikinis.  We could see all of the action when watching TV in our family room.

One day, a friend of mine gave me a bird feeder as a present. Mr. Demonic had a great time putting it up in the back yard. As soon as we launched our feeder, we discovered the sneakiness of the squirrel population. Sure it is nice to watch birds as they take seed from your bird feeder, but those pesky squirrels (and other critters) were eating everything up.

Daily I would fill the feeder, and then attach all sorts of items to it to prevent squirrels. These included big round feeder umbrellas, coyote pee, nails, heck, I even greased the pole with Crisco. Every day, they found a new way to thwart my attempts at keeping them away.

There was a byproduct to this exercise in futility. As soon as the squirrels knocked all of the seed to the ground, the geese would head over to eat giant mouthfuls of seed.

One day, my gorgeous blond neighbor knocked at my patio door. She wasn’t happy. In fact, she was pretty tense. “Yes, could you please stop feeding the birds? The geese are flying into my pool and making a terrible mess.” She didn’t wait for me to respond, she just turned and left.

I was probably this close (like two millimeters) away from giving up bird feeding completely, but after that, I bought a 25 pound bag of bird seed and kept feeding the squirrels and everything else.

Of course, these days, I wouldn’t feed the birds if they came up to the back door with a tin cup.

Defining Moments in the War Against the Squirrels

I despise squirrels.

There. I’ve said it. For those of you who don’t know me well or think I am joking, well, step back. If you’re a card carrying member of PETA, look out.

I must admit, I do like most animals. I like my cat, Maxx Attaxx. He’s mental, spastic, and bites hard, but is endearing in many other ways. For example, he keeps my feet warm when I’m sleeping. He also catches bugs, and kills them with gusto.

I like dogs too. I especially like well-behaved dogs, ones that will actually do what you say. I love dogs who don’t poop in my yard. (I might like dogs, but this house is dog-less at the moment. If there’s dog poop in my yard, that means it doesn’t belong here, and some human was negligent about removing said feces.) I also like horses, birds and animals in zoos. I like cows, but I have no qualms about eating a hamburger or wearing leather shoes. Sure, they have huge, sad eyes, but that doesn’t bother me. I know they are dumber than a box of rocks, and someone has to eat them. *Raises hand*

However, squirrels are different. Squirrels are a scourge upon this land. Squirrels should be eliminated by all means possible. They are glorified rodents, dressed up in a “pretty” poofy squirrel tail. Get them wet, and they’re just a big rat.

There are easily several thousand squirrels within the one block area that contains my home. I kid you not. There are black ones, brown ones, and albino ones. I blame the overpopulation of these rodents on the complacency of some of the squirrel sympathizers in my community. Some people actually think that squirrels are cute. They feed them peanuts. There’s a retired doctor down the street who feeds them Krispy Kremes and giant bagels. I know this, because the squirrels bring their haul down to our yard and try to hide it. We’ve found pastries in my husband’s garden shoes (which he keeps outside), in the garage, and tucked under the trampoline cover. Squirrels are so stupid, they forget where they hide their stash of food. Thus, when I am weeding, I end up uncovering peanuts. (A hint: in my area of the Tundra, peanuts are not found naturally of among our flora.)

I would shoot the squirrels that come into my yard, but I can’t. I live in a rather crowded suburb of a rather large metropolitan area. If I were to start shooting at squirrels, I’d be arrested. I’d love to lay out a dish of radiator fluid, but I think that would get me jail time as well. I am, however, lobbying for squirrel birth control.

In my lifetime, I managed to fell two squirrels without even trying. One time, I netted up my strawberry patch and an unwitting (code word: stupid) squirrel got himself entangled in the net. He might have had a strawberry grin on his face, but he was dead. His limp body was a warning to the other squirrels hoping to feast on berries. “Stay away!” They did.

The other time, I was pulling into the office at work. I was driving maybe 20 miles per hour, slowing down to turn into the driveway. My daughter, Ms. MiniDemonic, was in the passenger seat. I believe she was about nine or ten at the time. The squirrel was teasing me in the middle of the road. I didn’t aim for it, but figured the rodent would scamper out of the way. I was surprised to learn that he didn’t. I flattened that thing like a pancake. He obviously thought I was going to swerve to avoid him. Where would he get that idea? From the thousands of other squirrel sympathizers? Dumb ass. Now when I drive in my neighborhood, I try to swerve into them, but they’ve all wised up. They move if they see me coming.

I just noticed that I’m going to have a bumper crop of pears this year, and am already fretting about what to do with my rodent problem. I’d kind of like to actually eat one of my pears this year.

I wonder if I can ring up General Powell on the phone for his advice. After all, he’s retired and might need something to do.

Winning the Strawberry Wars Against the Squirrels

Two years ago, I planted a bed of strawberries at the back of the yard. I have a very nice terraced far back yard, where I grow vegetables and wine grapes. It’s quite large. Before we moved here, that area was a jungle of obnoxious plants clinging to boulders that were bigger than my head. The first thing I insisted Mr. Demonic do was to hire a landscaper to try and tame that mess. Each year has been a struggle, but finally this year it’s less of an fight to dig up weeds. You can see my terrace on Google maps. Of course, you can also see my dirty car and the equally filthy patio table on Google maps. (What an invention!)

I lined the back fence with wine grapes, and planted the strawberries right under the grapes. My plan was to have enough of a strawberry crop to (someday) to make jam.

Last year, my attempts at Strawberry Heaven were thwarted by squirrels. The squirrels in my neighborhood are not your normal, run-of-the-mill cute and furry animals. They are descendants from Satan and monster rats. This area is overpopulated by the glorified rodents. The squirrels in my neighborhood eat everything, including tomatoes and zucchini. They also have a passionate love affair with my strawberries.

This spring, as I was applying a dose of MiracleGro to my garden, I thought to myself that there must surely be a way to undermine the squirrel attack. My strawberry plants are healthy and thick. It’s a crying shame that I have yet to taste one delectable homegrown berry.

With renewed vigor, I made a trek to the local nursery. I perused the shelves for anti-squirrel venom (otherwise known as fox or coyote pee), and snagged a bottle of elixir to spread around the area. I also picked up a couple of packages of netting with which to surround my tender fruits.

Once home, I encased the entire area in a double layer of netting, top to bottom. My husband came by to see what I was doing. When he learned that I was using the netting, he had a mini-fit. Twenty years ago, in another house, I had a nice strawberry garden, similar to the one I have now. I had the same problem with squirrels in that neighborhood (and woodchucks, and ‘possums, and other creatures). I used netting to cover my berries. It was effective. I had quarts and quarts of strawberries, which was a good thing, because I was pregnant at the time and one of my cravings (besides Orange Crush) was strawberries.

One morning back at the old place, I went to harvest my bucket of berries, and found a squirrel hopelessly strangled in the netting. Yes, he/she was dead. I didn’t feel badly. (So shoot me.) I’m sure the critter had a strawberry grin on his face. What better way to leave this planet?

Yesterday afternoon, I picked my first bowl of strawberries. The fruit was uber-delicious. So far, no squirrels have been harmed in the harvest of my strawberries, but I’m not going to feel bad if any are. After all, the season is still young.

Fighting the Good Fight

I try to get a few things done over the weekend, and when I wasn’t looking, Wanda’s  waged War  against the skinny website.

I refuse to capitalize the title, linketize them or give them any more clicks than I have to. For the sake of my bud, I went in, I looked around, and I left disgusted.

Now, I don’t have anything against skinny girls, seeing that I was once a painfully skinny girl myself. I have been likened to a zipper if I turned sideways, and all of those other horrible yuck-yuck jokes that people made. According to my kids, my smallness was way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and everything was in black and white. While some may think I am still “thin,” I have actually filled out over the last couple of decades. I’ve gained 28 pounds since marrying Mr. Demonic, which is more than one fourth what I weighed before I married him.

I know I’ll never see size 2 again, but I don’t want to lose track of where I am, which is size 4. (Yeah, don’t get out the tomatoes yet.) I’ve been on a lackadaisical diet which includes cereal, lots of fruits and vegetables and nuts. I’ve also been working out, also half-heartedly. My whole heart might be more involved, but I’m doing this exercise in the confines of a claustrophobic basement. It’s dark, and there are centipedes down there. Twenty-five minutes is the absolute most time I’ll spend there working up a sweat.

I do this, not only to keep from buying a completely new wardrobe, but for health reasons. There’s a line of high cholesterol and heart disease in my family, as well as adult onset diabetes. Now that I’ve rounded the bend past 50, I want to take care of myself so I can last another 50 years. After all, I need to live long enough to be a real pain in the posterior to my children.

I do agree with Wanda that celebrating skinny is rather, well… dumb. Is there a web site celebrating all the fat girls? What about people of normal sizes and shapes? I’m rather amazed and distressed to find all of the usual subjects on the skinny web site: the Kardashians, Kate Hudson, Catherine Zeta Jones, the Olson twins, and more Kates, Kellies and Jennifers than I’d ever want to shake a skinny stick at.

I can understand Wanda’s overwhelming need to take her sharp wit and wield it like a dagger upon the skinny girls and those who idolize them. But, Wanda, Baby, I implore you! Don’t waste your talents on this! Your monumentally wicked tongue and lovely rear end should be championing some other cause, like the extermination of squirrels in my neighborhood. Now there’s a fight worth fighting.

Stew, anyone?