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Trying Not To Sound Like Doogie Howser, MD

You can tell yourself these people started out as exceptional.  You can tell yourself they had influence before they started.  You can tell yourself the conditions under which they achieved were different from yours. 

Or you can be like a woman I knew who sat at her kitchen window year after year and watched everyone else do it and then said to herself, “It’s my turn.”

I was  37 years old at the time— Erma Bombeck

So, I’m a year behind Erma, but starting a blog or two is something that has been on my mind for quite a while.  I’ve always been afraid it would wind up sounding like the final scenes of a Doogie Howser, MD, episode where we’d see the lesson learned appear letter by white letter on the blue  computer screen.  To be completely honest, the inspirational nineties music is blaring in my head right now…

As I said, I’m a year behind Erma, and forty is coming at me fast.  I’m in a different place than I imagined, not worse by any means, just different.  I’ve started this to chronicle me getting my ish together, as the kids say (I think they still say that? Anyone??) and as motivation to try things I haven’t before.  My goal is to close out my thirties strong, and enter my forties having tried some things that I have put off until now.  Strap on a helmet, it’s bound to get interesting…

 

 

Moments Dear and Not So

So, one of my favorite things I’ve ever seen on social media is this:

Profound, right?

Along with everyone else, I’m thinking about the last decade and the changes it brought. There’s a lot to be said about having a December birthday and having your personal milestones wrapped up with a big one celebrated by A LOT of people… and it’s been extensively covered by many others so I won’t rehash that here. I will say the weirdness seems to jump up a notch when you have a December birthday with a birth year ending in nine. It’s convenient because I always know what number needs to go in the ones column of my age -a hack I’m finding needing more useful as time marches on and I’m left occasionally unsure of the day of the week.

However, it also means that my personal decade meltdowns milestones coordinate with everyone’s and it can be a tad much at points. This one seems to have more gravitas than any of its predecessors. It think it’s because this is the first chunk of ten years where I’ve been (or at least pretended to be) and adulty adult the entire time. This was the decade of transatlantic moves (where I was one of the adults responsible for making it happen) and parenthood; it’s been terrifying, exhilarating, awe-striking, heart melting, and at times excruciatingly real.

Which brings me back to the quote above (If you’ve read my posts before you knew I’d get there eventually). Based on the above Broadway math, there are 600 not so dear moments in each year, so roughly 6,000 not so dear moments in a decade. That’s about 4 days and some change of not stellar moments. That’s not too bad for ten years, but in my more pessimistic moments reviewing the last decade, it seems unrealistically low.

For me, this decade has had some of the highest highs and lowest lows. I’ve had some amazing gains (please refer to- Ginger, Big and Little) and life experiences for which I am forever grateful. I’ve gained a better understanding of who I am and where I’m going. I can honestly say that when I’m reviewing the balance sheet of the decade, the dear moments make anything and everything else worth it.

On the other hand, it has also been the decade where the fact of loss has made itself more prominently known both in my life and in those close to me. I’ve also lost intangibles as my views on issues and others have shifted. The most impactful probably being my evolving body image and food. This is a welcome reminder that not all loss comes without gain.

I think a side effect of parenthood is you become more acutely aware of the passage of time through the bittersweet dichotomy of having to say goodbye to cherished stages while marveling at the ever-changing small human in front of you.

So, I’ve fully contradicted myself numerous times in a relatively short amount of writing and I’m now going to attempt to tie it all together. Stand back, this could get messy.

In times of loss, I’ve looked to the words of others to help me make sense of what has happened. Colin Murray Parkes, a British psychiatrist, has made a great impact.

The pain of grief is just as much part of life as the joy of love:it is perhaps the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment. To ignore this fact, or to pretend that it is not so, is to put on emotional blinkers which leave us unprepared for the losses that will inevitably occur in our own lives and unprepared to help others cope with losses in theirs.

-Dr. Colin Murray Parkes

(Incidentally, I’m not alone in this, Queen Elizabeth II has paraphrased this sentiment and the quote is often misattributed to her. All in all, not too shabby company to be in. )

Back to the task at hand, where I attempt to reconcile a hilarious Tumblr post with profound advice from an expert on loss. I’ve come to the conclusion that the not so dear moment math is probably correct. This is because the not so dear are probably best reserved for my woodland creature crises and other moments that are now hilarious. My moments of loss don’t count not so dear, because they are the product of having loved and been loved deeply and well. Those are truly moments so dear and worth every tear and heartache.

The times I’ve tripped and fallen in public, those I could happily lose, along with a fair amount of middle school…

Now I’ve sort of wrapped up a decade for me… I’ve been trying to do this for weeks now and can’t quite wrap it up the way I want to. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last decade, I’ve learned where I draw boundaries, I’ve learned I’m stronger than I ever imagined. I’ve paid the price for loving and being loved and I’ll continue to pay it without complaint because I know how lucky I am to be here at forty and to have so much to look forward to. I’m grateful that I know myself so much better than I did ten years ago. I’m not just saying that because I finally found a shirt that describes me to a tee (see what I did there??)

Happy New Year everyone!

Hal, Mavis, and An Unnamed Peacock

So, when we left off last time; we’d arrived safely, started our marathon hotel stay, and needed to find a house… A few hours after arrival we hopped in the car to look at a possibility.

At that point in time Father of Gingers had started to look and the house hunt had not been going well. He’d seen a few that just weren’t going to work and was more hopeful that this one might be a match for our list. Bleary-eyed we headed off to the house.

It had some very good points – decent yard (garden), Harry Potter cupboard under the stairs, but also had a minor issue in the fact that a not-insignificant percentage of the interior was painted what can only be described as Pepto Bismal pink. If you’ve seen the wedding scene from Steel Magnolias, imagine that- but pinker. BG, who’s going through a “distaste of all things that could be considered girly phase” wasn’t sure he could live there. LG, on the other hand claims the unicorn as her spirit animal and was more like, “I live here now!” I seriously think she was contemplating moving in without us.

We decided to keep looking at listings and hope that house would be available as a fall back. At that point I’d been up for the better part of forty-eight hours and wasn’t sure what exactly was going on but I was pretty sure I would feel like I’d been slapped in the retinas every day with that paint scheme.

Motivated by the prospect of Pepto interiors, I hopped back on RightMove to see if any other listings had come up. There were two that looked like they could be winners. One was a farm house that had a snug (I’m still not one hundred percent sure what that is, but at the time, I felt passionately about it) and one that kind of looked like an old Tudor house. We got times to tour both scheduled and continued to obsessively check listings settled into wait.

The day of the first tour for the farm house arrived. I was woken by the gentle chirping of birds and the first rays of sunshine.

No, no, I wasn’t.

I was woken by LG gagging and crying as we heard the unmistakeable sounds of retching. She and I spent the morning taking turns changing outfits and hosing off with pauses to attempt to clean out the Pack and Play. I told BG to go wild on screen time and try not to breathe in any germs. Then the email came, the first people to come look at the farm house had snatched it up, and our viewing was canceled. I mopped up LG yet again, started a load of laundry and watched some Daniel Tiger. Sadly, Daniel doesn’t have a little jingle to deal with real estate disappointments.

LG recovered from her bug and we spent the weekend waiting to go look at the next house. We decided that short of a major haunting, we were going to take it and anything from moderate haunting down, we would happily live with. The house looked promising and I was REALLY trying not to get my hopes up as there was at least one showing before us.

The big day came- I got myself and the Gingers dressed in our best “we’re totally normal people who you’d love to have living in this house” outfits and away we went. We drove over and the front gate opened… (Yes, I said front gate, things are about to get a tad Downton Abbey). We walked to the front door and the family who was touring before us came out. I did my best not to stare them down. It was a challenge. We also were doing our best to not look completely over eager, but hotel living may have put a dent in that effort.

We walked through the front door and into the kitchen where I saw this:

And then this

They were promptly named Hal and Mavis (in my mind- I managed to have some self control) and I decided that I lived here now and was busy frantically trying to communicate this to FoG with only my eyes. He did not have the same instant attachment to Hal and Mavis and we did a walk through of the rest of the house to make sure we were set on things like bedrooms and bathrooms (this was probably a good thing). All the boxes were checked and we said we’d take it then and there. We were set, we’d just have to wait about a month and some change.

We went back to the hotel, the previously mentioned aggressively quaint Air BnB, then back to the hotel, and then to stay at a friend’s house. All the while I kept a Downton Abbey-esque vision in my head, fueled by the fact that a former “great house” was less than a quarter mile away and the area our house is in was the support village for the big house. I didn’t really see myself as a member of the family who lives in the big house, or the household staff. I’m more of the mind set of minor villager who makes an appearance at the yearly fair with an award- winning cake or something.

Move in day finally came! We headed over with our nine pieces of luggage, two Gingers, and assorted other paraphernalia. We pulled up to the gate and were greeted by this sight:

Yup- that is a full blown peacock. I promptly turned over the keys and he lives in the house now. I hope he’s happy.

Kidding. I’m kidding. However given my track record with nature and my fear of birds, I feel like it would’ve been understandable. My family didn’t agree so we pushed forward. I’m happy to report as of this writing there have not been any run ins with the unnamed peacock and I’ve only been stuck in the car once waiting out a pheasant who was taking his sweet time exploring the joint.

So we moved in- and all we had to do was wait for a week for all of our household goods, without internet, and one car. Piece of cake, sort of, kind of, well- I mean- we survived it.

I’ll write about that later.

“NOW we in England!”…

Hi!

So, it’s been a while…way longer than I planned. Apparently moving two gingers across the Atlantic is incredibly time consuming. Who knew? We wound up being in transit from Memorial Day to Labor Day and it has been a journey. Internet is still working it’s way to our house, which has also caused delays as doing this on my phone is tricky*. I have fallen in love with a wonderful little coffee/tea place- they have WiFi, which one reason for the love, the other reason is this:

It’s a serious infatuation. If I could live off Earl Grey and scones I would. I may try.

Because it’s been such a long time, I’m going to try and hit a few highlights. There will be more stories to come but if I try to write everything this post is going to go on forever.

Let’s start with the plane ride over- seems like a logical place. I was doing well until the last day or two before the trip. Father of Gingers went two weeks ahead of us to get started on his job and look for houses. I had been insanely stupid a tad overconfident as I assured everyone of course I could handle this. Anyway, one case of Hand, Foot, and Mouth for Little Ginger and myself in the week before go-time later**, it was time to go. It took two cars, my parents, and some dear friends to get us to the airport. Why, you ask? It’s one woman traveling with two children, isn’t that a bit of overkill?

You wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask this, all I can do is clarify that my airport list was:

  • 5 checked bags
  • 4 carry on bags
  • 3 sets of passports
  • 2 bemused Gingers
  • 1 me
  • We made to Heathrow unscathed. The Gingers rocked the trip, completely redeeming themselves for every sleepless night they’d caused in their entire lives. Passport control was cleared without tears and all passports accounted for, thankfully none of my stress dreams came true (including the one where Kate Middleton is the passport agent and I’m trying to act totally nonchalant). We made our way to baggage claim and it was time to claim our approximately 250lbs of baggage (I wish I was exaggerating for comedic effect, but I’m not). The now very sleepy Gingers rose to the challenge and we got it all loaded on two trolleys and off we went to meet up with FoG in arrivals! I sounded like a deranged motivational speaker as I wore LG in a backpack, pushed a trolley, pulled a suitcase, and helped BG with his trolley. After a lot of,
  • “Okay buddy, you’ve got to push down on the handle to make it go..”

    “We CAN do this!”

    “I know you can’t really see over the trolley, follow my voice and keep going straight!”

    “No no no! Straight!”

    “Sorry!”

    “Oops- sorry again!”

    “Not much further- we just have to get through those doors!”

    We got through customs, probably made a lasting impression on our fellow travelers, and met up with FoG. Then it was time to head to the hotel and get unpacked and organized crash for a few hours then the house hunt began. The house hunting will be a story for another day.

    All in all we were in the hotel/long stay apartments and one assertively quaint Air BnB for the next six weeks. For the record- if an Air BnB has furniture that looks like it belongs on the set of Sherlock, there’s horsehair involved, and you can feel springs in the furniture- you’ve definitely wandered into assertively quaint territory.

    On a final note for this post- apparently the hotel wasn’t in England according to LG. When we left the hotel and headed into the town we were staying in, she’d look at me, nod, and say as authoritatively as a two year old can,

    “NOW we in England!”

    I guess she had a point.

    *UPDATE- we now have Internet. I no longer feel like I’m on my way to being a minor character in the Downton Abbey kitchen (I was going to say Little House on the Praire, but- it’s England) I’m off to put away my butter churn now

    **This is pretty par for the course- remind me to tell you about the stomach bug coming through the house four days before LG signed on with us.

    Bag of Hair Blues…

    So, the last month has been pretty heavily consumed with moving stuff. I go back and forth between, “I’ve totally got this, it’s all manageable and under control” and “HOLY FORKING SHIRTBALLS THE MOVERS ARE COMING!” (This was the second most famous phrase by Paul Revere) I may also be watching The Good Place when I have a moment… (according to the wise sages who write BuzzFeed quizzes, I’m a combo of Chidi and Janet- in case anyone was wondering)

    Okay, back on topic now. Moving means sorting and trying to purge. If I do say so myself, I’m doing a much better job than I have in past moves and have managed to get rid of a lot. I do not like purging. Some of it is I’m always convinced as soon as I get rid of something I’m going to need it. The fact that I’ve found some, um, interesting surprises while cleaning out in the past also significantly factors into my reluctance. However, Marie Kondo would totally give me a gold star right now… until she saw my dresser.

    My dresser has a problem. It kind of looks like it could belong to a serial killer. You may be asking why right now…Is there a dark side to me that you never knew about? Are we about to learn about an ill-advised goth phase in my past?

    No.

    It’s just that my dresser happens to be home to a bag of hair and some teeth that are not mine.

    I guess I need to explain more.

    Let’s start with the bag of hair. When Big Ginger was about fifteen months old, we took him for his first hair cut. We were still living in Germany and I grabbed a Ziploc bag on my way out the door, thinking I might want to save a lock of hair from his first haircut. We got to the hairdressers and I explained (I thought) that I just wanted the first lock of hair to save. She gave me a strange look but said okay. BG was seated with Father of Gingers and the haircut started. I stood there clutching my sandwich baggie, possibly with a few tears welling up in my eyes, and she handed me the first lock of hair. I put it in the bag carefully, and got ready seal it up, and then, before I knew it, the hair dresser was handing me another lock of hair, I accepted it, and tucked it in next to the first.

    Then she gave me another. And another. I kept on collecting locks of hair in my little Ziploc baggie while trying to figure out if there was a way to politely ask her to please stop giving me hair. I couldn’t come up with anything and resigned myself to being the weird American with the bag of hair. We brought it home and I couldn’t bring myself to reach in and pull out a chunk for safe keeping, so I put it in my dresser and didn’t think much more of it. I took BG to a different barber shop from then on so I wouldn’t have to be the “weird bag of hair chick” or worse, find myself with an ever-growing collection of bags of hair. That’s how you wind up on the news, and not in a good way.

    The teeth were less of a cultural misunderstanding situation and more a “I’m not exactly sure what to do about this” scenario. BG started losing teeth a few years ago and I felt weird throwing out a piece of my kid. Also, FoG was traveling for work and I didn’t want him to miss out on the full experience. I should probably also mention at that time Little Ginger was still waking up twice a night and I was running on four-ish hours of sleep on a good night. My decision -making processes may not have been at their most coherent. So, I now have a little drawer full of teeth.

    And my dresser has a creepy vibe.

    I guess on the upside it’s not a shrunken head, right?

    Maybe it’s time for me to look into Swedish death cleaning?

    Your move, Marie Kondo.

    Lamaze breathing, repurposed…

    So, the gingers are safely with their grandparents and Father of Gingers and I are in England looking around at places to live/ having an early tenth anniversary trip.

    FoG arrived early for work and I caught up with him yesterday. The flight over was so nice and peaceful, and I loved having some travel time to myself. As I might have mentioned before, I’m in one of my favorite countries, as I’m might have mentioned before, and I’m ready to start this adventure. Nowthat we’re all up to speed…

    When I’m not dreaming of high school the other stress dream/ nightmare I’ve had for years, pretty much since I learned to drive- is that I’m trying to dive the car from the wrong seat and having to reach over to use the steering wheel. As we’ve discussed before, I REALLY like having things under control, so I think it’s safe to assume the dream is about my control freak tendencies has something to do with that.

    Well, yesterday I was literally living the dream.

    FoG picked me up from the train station, I hopped into my seat, looked for the steering wheel, noticed it was AWOL, and then remembered I was in England. In my defense, I didn’t sleep on the plane so I’d been up for about twenty-six hours at that point. I pulled myself together and got ready to get back on the road. I should probably mention that FoG was on day two of driving on the wrong (to us) side of the road.

    Then I tried to grab the gear shift.

    At that point I decided it was best to hold the phone in my right hand while watching the map to reduce the temptation to grab the gearshift. I sat on the left, looked out the window with a view unobstructed by steering wheel or dashboard instruments and quietly chanted, “It’s okay, it’s okay” to myself. I’d take breaks in chanting to assist with navigating and reassure FoG this was not editorializing on his driving. Fortunately he was totally understanding and had bigger fish to fry. Right hand turns have taken on a whole new meaning in his world, mine too.

    We’ve now made several car trips without incident.

    On a related note- both Gingers signed on to our organization via C-section so I always assumed those hours we spent in childbirth classes before Big Ginger were just a write off. Now I’m happy to report those breathing and relaxation techniques are excellent for working through learning to be on the wrong side of the car and/or feeing like you’re in a stress dream.

    I don’t think I’ll be attempting to drive on this trip since it’s going to be a short one. Also, I have a feeling it’s going to take a while if my original leaning to drive experience is anything to go on. I’m also flirting with the idea of writing a book, this would definitely give me some serious material. I should probably brush up on my breathing techniques too..

    But Does It Spark Joy?

    So, I was chatting with my aunt the other day (I have been very lucky to have a ton of support from my family as I’ve started this whole blogging thing) and she reminded me of an escapade that I had written on a list of topics to write about but then forgotten about (or possibly suppressed, you’ll understand in a second)…

    This all took place back before Father of Gingers and I started the whole Parents of Gingers circus act collaboration that is our life today. At the time we were living in Germany and had been married almost two years. It had been a very eventful two years, with a trans- Atlantic move, lots of travel, new jobs, and a guest room fire- just to name a few highlights.

    It was summer time and we were headed back to the States to see friends and family. Due to the fact the trip wasn’t very long, we had decided to each go visit our grandparents separately. I went to see my Gran in Texas and future Father of Gingers (FFoG?) was off to Michigan.

    I should take a minute here to explain my Gran. Honestly, there’s enough material for several posts but I want to keep this short today. We will be coming back to her, especially as I seem to have reincarnated her in Little Ginger, whom we frequently call ReGran. I guess the fastest way to sum up Gran for this post is- she was a red-headed army nurse in the Pacific during the Second World War, and there were combat boots involved. She was eighty-eight when this happened, living on her own with an aide that came in daily to help her with errands since Gran was no longer driving.

    Gran was the original Ginger and my gingers often remind me of her. Big Ginger is named for that set of grandparents, and as I said before sometimes Little Ginger is just my Gran in a toddler body. I never feel Gran’s presence more strongly than I do when I’m trying to unload/reload the dishwasher and Little Ginger feels compelled to supervise.

    Gran liked to stay busy, to the point where I was usually totally exhausted by the end of the visit. There was always something we could be doing, dusting off the top of kitchen cabinets, unloading a dishwasher, going through a closet or drawers to clean out any clutter. On this visit, she decided she would really like to go though some filing cabinets that had not been sorted since my grandfather had passed away. I agreed that we could do that (we were going to do it either way, if I’m being honest) so her aide and I got to work.

    We got through the first few drawers of the filing cabinet fairly quickly and purged what needed to be purged. Then we got to the top of the filing cabinet, and it was one of those cabinets where the top drawer opened up towards you then slid in, kind of like a garage door, giving shelf space to store things. The key that opened the bottom drawers did not open the top drawer, and it was the only one we had. Fortunately my grandfather had decided that basic lock picking was a skill I should learn when I was a teenager. He was absolutely right and it has definitely come in handy more times than many other things I learned as a teenager- looking at you Trigonometry.

    I told Gran and her aide that I thought I could probably get the lock open and got the go-ahead. A few minutes later-success! I lifted the drawer to slide it back, promptly shrieked and let the door slam shut. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’re probably wondering what kind of woodland creature I ran afoul of this time?You be justified in wondering that. Totally justified and completely wrong. Not every traumatic event in my life has been the fault of a woodland creature; although it does seem to be a bit disproportionate compared to other people I’ve talked to. Even without getting into the time a mouse died in my office at the retirement home…

    Anyway- back to the filing cabinet.

    I opened it again, convinced I couldn’t possibly have seen what I thought I saw, but the fact that Gran’s aide looked equally horrified gave me the sinking feeling I was right. And, yup, there it was, sitting in a display case; a freaking shrunken head! As I sat there, stunned, wondering how this was possibly my life, Gran peered over my shoulder to see what the fuss was about and matter of factly said:

    “Oh, I wondered where that had gotten to… It used to be part of a set.”

    Other families have salt and pepper shakers that are part of sets and handed down. Or vases, or heirloom quilts. You never hear about anyone fighting over who gets the shrunken heads. Maybe it does happen and it just doesn’t come up in conversation? I just don’t know.

    I don’t remember much about what happened after that, I guess a surprise shrunken head when you’re expecting to find decades-old tax returns will do that to a person. I do remember Mexican food and beer were part of the afternoon. It was medicinal at that point. I talked to FoG on the phone that night. He was telling me about his very busy (but surplus head-free) day he had with his grandparents and said he was exhausted. I announced I’d picked a filing cabinet lock and found a shrunken head. I won the conversation/ who’s the most tired contest.

    The rest of the visit with my Gran passed unremarkably, and I made a mental note to let my mother and her siblings know about the plus 1/4ish of a person hanging out in the filing cabinet.

    I can’t help but wonder what Marie Kondo would have said about the whole situation.

    ***I should note here that later on after further discussion, it was determined that the shrunken head was not a real one but a souvenir that had been picked up during my grandparents’ time living in South America. So, the good news was I had not disturbed someone’s head. Be grateful for the small things in life, I always say. Whether it’s sunshine or the fact you didn’t get surprised by authentic human remains, just imitation.

    The whereabouts of the other half of the set remain unknown.

    Circle of Life (ish)

    So this is a totally random post, but I felt like it was time for some more nature-based perspective.

    A couple of years ago, when Little Ginger was really little and Big Ginger was in preschool we were careening through our days, one of us on less sleep than she thought humanly possible, one who slept whenever the mood struck her, and one who had probably taken a solemn vow against sleeping past sunup at birth.  I’ll leave it to you to figure out who was who.

    One day after coming home from the preschool/ drive through mandatory caffeine Starbucks run, we pulled into the parking space.  I immediately told Big Ginger to stay right where he was and NOT get out of the car.  Most people would probably use the tone I used if there was a life-threatening emergency going on outside the car.  I opted to use it for a woodland creature-related crisis.  There was an enormous (I thought in my sleep deprived state) squirrel on our front stoop.  This thing was a monster.  It was the Godzilla of squirrels. It was terrifying.  It was proudly standing up on its hind legs as if to say,

    “That’s right b*%$!, I LIVE HERE NOW!”

    I was getting ready to carefully get out of the car and get a picture of this beast to have for later when I was explaining to Father of Gingers why I’d handed the keys to the house over to a woodland creature. I took another look, and it wasn’t a squirrel, but a groundhog or woodchuck.  It was still concerning as it did not look like it was going to back down and I was busily googling rabies and deciding if this was an emergency that warranted asking FoG to come come.

    Big Ginger then announced he had to go potty in that special tone that preschoolers use when you have minus two minutes to make it to a bathroom or you’re going to be cleaning a car seat, at minimum.  The time for debate was over.  I took a deep breath, told my children Mommy loved them, and got out of the car to face my woodland demons.  I slammed the door and the behemoth turned to look my way.  I took a few steps closer, it took a closer look at me and practically flew under the front stoop.  I should mention that at this point I was getting maybe three (non-consecutive) hours of sleep a night and had elevated the messy bun concept to an art-form that was probably prize winning. (The prize would  be either more coffee or a dark room to sleep in, winner’s choice.)  Any makeup I was wearing had been applied in less than thirty seconds.   In short- I was a vision.

    My ego took a hit at what I perceived as the not-a-squirrel’s judgement on my appearance, but I was just happy to make it in the house and avoid a potty-related disaster. I made a mental note to remember we had a new (most likely very traumatized) neighbor under the front stoop and to keep an eye out.  I also called FoG to announce that I hadn’t given the house away to wildlife, but it’d been close.

    Fast forward a few months later.  I’d seen the not-a-squirrel a few times, but we seemed to have settled into a state of icy detente. I think it knew I  had no problem going full messy bun again, and it respected my dominance.

    Then, FoG was going on his first business trip since Little Ginger had signed on to the organization.  She was still sleeping on a schedule that more closely resembled a newborn than a seven month old and we had recently found out that there were most likely food intolerance/allergy issues at play.  I was off dairy to help her and feeling a little delicate about the whole situation.

    That morning FoG had some appointments and the Gingers and I had errands. I stepped out the front door and was hit by an unholy wall of stink. Something had definitely departed the land of the living. I was devoutly hoping my under the stoop friend hadn’t gotten the last word by dying under said front stoop. I was not equipped for corpse removal. I couldn’t help but think that Disney totally glossed over this aspect of all the Princesses having woodland friends.

    Then I looked out over the parking lot. There was my former nemesis. It was definitely very dead and the source of the unfortunate stench. I shepherded the Gingers out to the car keeping my body between Big Ginger and the deceased as that was going to bring up a lot of questions I didn’t feel equipped to answer with ice cream being a non-option.

    We accomplished our errands without further incident and returned home. I asked FoG if he’d noticed the stench and if there was someone we should call. He had noticed it too. I then said I was going out to do a few more errands and grab some lunch and would look up the number we needed to call. FoG then informed me in a carefully neutral voice that he didn’t think I would need to make the call. I said,

    “Oh, great! One of the neighbors must be on it!”

    He said, not in the way I was thinking and maybe I should take a peek out the front window. I looked and there was an entire flock of vultures gathered around the not-a-squirrel. I was upset for two reasons:

    1. Not-a-squirrel and I may not have had the best interactions, but I felt bad he was becoming a buffet

    2. I am deathly afraid of birds. My bird phobia makes my squirel phobia look completely rational and reasonableAt this point there was nothing to do but respect the impromptu sky burial going on in our parking lot. Nature would run its course, and I still needed to run errands. I got FoG to go out to the car with me in the event that the vultures decided I looked like a good second course. I went and did my errands and picked up my lunch, hoping it would all be over by the time I got back.

    No such luck. More vultures had shown up and there was now a sort of line forming. And there I was with a bag of food. I was practically setting up for a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds outside my front door. I gave myself a pep talk and explained to myself that there was no reason to be afraid. I could totally just get out of the car and march myself into the house. I’d just stare down any a-hole bird who dared to even look in my direction.

    Then I called FoG from the car and requested an escort into the house. My need for my lunch not to get cold outweighed my need to overcome my bird phobia. I got inside safely and lived to tell the tale. Have I mentioned FoG is really patient and understanding?

    A few hours later, it was all over and everyone had left the parking lot. It was almost like it had never happened except for a few tufts of fur. Which was both sad and disgusting.

    The whole experience was very Circle of Life but with way less Elton John and more vultures. Unfortunately, there was no parting of the clouds with an accompanying delivery of a profound lesson. Maybe the lesson was I’d be a terrible Disney Princess given my track record with woodland creatures? For now, I’m just going to assume it was a sign to continue my “I’ll stay out of your house, you stay out of mine” pact with nature and leave it at that.