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Friday, November 25, 2016

Midnight Cadaver Run

So I find myself in a dark quiet parking lot of a funeral parlor near midnight. The only sound is the wind in the trees and the traffic in the distance as the business of living is conducted nearby. But we are not in the business of the living, we are in the business of the dead.

I am not without trepidation. This is the place that cremated Bob.  That cremated Boomer. And Zenith. It's the go-to cremation center of the area. And so familiar to me at the worst time of my life when I frequented it so often I felt they should offer me a frequent flyer discount.

I am not alone.  Hillary is with me. She is the one who summoned me to this dark parking lot near the witching hour to help her with a grim task.

She has the passcode and unlocks the overhead door, which rolls up soundlessly and an automatic  light switches on, flooding the parking lot with a dim glow.  Inside the garage, a shiny black hearse rests waiting for its next gloomy call to service.  Beside the hearse, a freezer chest, white, the kind you might find in a deer hunter's garage. Next to the chest, two dead (I kid you not) potted palms -- a fitting decoration for a funeral parlor  -- I guess.

In the back seat of Hillary's van is the purpose of our midnight task.  The body of behemoth of a dog. Great Dane, 135 lbs.  I must say, he was really hard to look at. Reallly, a handsome boy, a beautiful dog when alive. And I have always loved a Great Dane, since Boomer was part-Great Dane. The dog had bone cancer and Hillary, sadly, had to euthanize him earlier that evening and was now in the perplexing situation of lifting 135 lbs. of dead (literally) weight out of her vehicle and into that freezer chest.

Since the funeral parlor is closed, and no one is around, I am there to help. What are friends for?

So we try to lift the dog. No easy task. And while we make attempt after futile attempt, shifting the dog this way and that, trying not to drop him or lose him in a slide to the ground -- a police cruiser slows to a stop at the driveway of the parking lot --- most likely wondering who these suspicious characters are and what they are up to at this time of night at a funeral parlor?

Hillary, bless her soul, sees this as an opportunity and hikes over the patrol car and knocks on the window. She asks the police officer (a nice, large man) for assistance.  He agrees, pulls the cruiser into the parking lot, lighting up our work area with his headlights and together, the three of us, manage the unmanageable task. Getting the dog first, out of the van, me -- climbing into the front seat, leaning over the back to pick up the head, then slowly lowering him down onto the low riding gurney, then moving the gurney into the garage area (all the while Hilllary freaking out that we might scratch that pristine hearse) and then from the gurney, lifted him back up and sort of gently dumped (for lack of a better term) him into the deep freezer. Then the next perplexing issue of how to get the canvass carrying bag out from under the dog -- the cop suggesting we just pull on one end and whip it out from under him, Hillary protesting "Don't hurt him!" --- to which I answer, "jeepers, he's already dead!"

And finally, mission accomplished. The dog tagged and bagged and paperwork with cremation instructions completed. I said a little prayer before we closed the freezer door....

I will say that my life has certainly become strange since Bob's death....

Monday, November 21, 2016

Snake in the Basket & Other Horrors

I don't know why, but it's been hard for me to show up at the computer keyboard. A sort of serious case of writer's block hitting me but I made a promise to a friend that I would write something -- so here it goes:

The other week, Kona and I were enjoying an afternoon of "diving for tennis balls" in the pool, and when we finished up I realized there were four balls missing, which usually means they have ended up in the leaf catch basket.

So I open up the cover to the catch basket and sure enough, there are the four missing tennis balls  bobbing in the water. And when I reach in for the tennis balls, a black head pops up between the balls and looks at me. GA!

I quickly slam the cover shut.

Now I've had critters in the pool before, mostly itty-bitty frogs which I try to rescue, one froggie even found clinging to a tennis ball as if it was a life raft.  Also the occasional gecko which I also rescue. But this thing in the basket, this thing was neither frog nor lizard, it was in fact a snake.

I am no fan of snakes.

I admit, I stood there for a moment contemplating what to do.  I could hardly leave the snake there... I mean it would surely drown caught in the basket like that, and even though I am no snake fan I didn't want to kill him (her).

So the first thing I did was get Kona out of the pool area. Then I carefully opened the basket lid and set it aside, stepping back, hoping the thing might just slither away.

No such luck.

I could see him (her?) trying to slip up the side, and slide back down in between the tennis balls, in a futile attempt to flee.

It was a small snake, blackish in color, about the size of a #2 pencil and about the length. Most likely a baby snake.

So Plan B:  I went in the house looking for one of Bob's grabber sticks.  You know what mean, not sure of the technical name for this device, but it has a long handle and pincers at one end and is used to grab things from up high or off the ground.  I find a long handled grabber thing and go back to the pool where the snake is still slithering around the tennis balls in the basket.

Now the basket has a little metal handle and I figure if I can grab the handle with the grabber thing, I can then carry the basket, snake and tennis balls, out to the alley and just dump the whole thing and run.  That was the Plan.

I did manage to grab the handle but as I'm pulling the basket out of the water, the snake slips up to the top of the basket and I sort of freak out and run to the closest place to dump the basket, which is the garden by the pool.  Which I do.

However, the basket didn't actually dump over, just sort of tottered and uprighted itself and the snake slipped to the top of the basket and then just sort of sat there on the basket rim, not moving.  But I'm thinking the thing should move -- right? Should see a method of escape and make a run for it -- right?

No such luck.

The thing just sat there sort of like a snake statue, not moving and regarding me with suspicious eyes....

I still have the grabber thing in my hand and so I get another bright idea.  I'll grab the snake with the grabber and fling him (her) over the fence into my neighbor's yard, thus getting rid of the problem.  (My neighbor wasn't home, would never know.)  So I start moving stealthily toward the motionless snake with the grabber and the snake sees me coming and ZOOOOM! it leaps, jumps, flees the basket faster than a speeding bullet into the garden.

Oh-kay.  So tentatively I reach for the basket of tennis balls all the while with a wary eye on my garden plants for the snake.  I don't see him (her?) and I get the basket and I am very pleased with myself, I haven't totally freaked out or screamed through the whole episode but I am now backing away from the garden with the basket in my hand, slowly backing away, wary about the snake's whereabouts when something wraps itself around my ankle!

I hate to admit -- I screamed bloody murder at the top my lungs.  I mean I SCREAMED!  I am surprised the neighbors didn't call the police. But of course, I don't think they were home.

And then I look down at my ankle to find I had backed right into the Confederate Jasmine and one of its vines had caught my ankle.


And now I have kept my promise to my friend and blogged.  And hopefully broken my writer's block spell.

I have more horror stories to share but will save them for later this week.

Stay tuned....  (I'm back!)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Unexpected Birthday Wishes

I know this blog has been quiet -- Halloween, my birthday, my mother's surgery, and upcoming holidays all taking a toll on my mental health.

While I am still grieving and grieving deeply.... and having a hard time of it.

But wanted to share this belated birthday card, which came today and made me smile:

Thanks Kona! (and Hillary!)
I needed that....