Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Auntie Em! Uncle Henry!

My co-worker just told me we're on tornado watch until ten PM.  Tornadoes?  In April?  In central Pennsylvania?  Is Mother Nature off her nut? 

In case of tornado, you're suppose to go somewhere low to the ground with no windows, aren't you?  I have no basement.  That leaves under the stairs with the water heater (and the spiders) or the downstairs powder room.  Luckily the cat likes to stick close by, so should the sky turn green, it looks like I'm gonna tuck her under my arm and head for the teeny tiny powder room just off of the kitchen.

Sheesh.  This morning they were calling for thunderstorms with hail. Now it's tornadoes.  What's next, poisonous toads?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Checking in

Let's see, what's going on around here?  Well, according to someone pitching to Blackbird, it's National Licorice Day.  Google says it's the 50th anniversary of space flight.

It's also National Library Worker's Day, and of course my library is making a fuss.  There are two parties scheduled so that no matter when your work day starts or ends you can make it to one of them.  I was stopped on my way in from lunch by the receptionist and told I should "hurry up and get some cake."  My response surprised even me: "It's just cake."  Did I say that?  And it appears I meant it, because I'm still on my lunch break (the tail end of it), sitting at my desk not eating cake.

Also?  Sophie has worms.  You know how cats are always sticking their bums in your face?  She did that this morning, and I saw a worm.  Uh-oh.   How the heck did she get worms?  She doesn't have fleas (I don't think she does.  I never see any), she doesn't go outside, I've never fed her raw or undercooked meat, and I have no other pets that she could have gotten them from.  I wonder if a flea hitched a ride into the house on my shoes or socks or something.

So tomorrow afternoon we go to the vet.  Huzzah.

Friday, April 01, 2011


A long time ago my great-uncle Bill told me a joke.  I enjoyed it.  A lot.  I enjoyed it so much that I started telling it to people, and much like Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant," the joke got a little longer and more involved with each retelling.  Between the first draft of this post and the second one it grew some more.  It's almost a short story now.  It involves bats.  And men (or women) of the cloth.

Once upon a time there was a little town.  In this town there were three churches: a Lutheran church, a Catholic church, and a Methodist church.  The pastors and the priest associated with these churches were friends and used to meet weekly in a booth at the local diner to drink coffee and talk shop.  One summer morning they found that they were all having a similar problem: bats.

"Honestly," said Father Mike, "this is getting out of hand.  One of the boys in the choir had a bat get tangled in his hair, and now they all flatly refuse to go near the loft.  They sing from the back of the nave." 

"Tell me about it," Pastor Owens commiserated.  "I was locking up after the United Methodist Women's group last Wednesday and noticed something fluttering around the lectern.  I thought it was a bird until it smacked into a window and started to climb up it."

"Ugh."  Pastor Larssen shuddered.  "Ours get disturbed when the pipe organ plays.  One blast of that thing, and they dart among the rafters in a frenzy.  I need to do something.  I really don't want to call an exterminator, though."

"No, me neither," said the priest. "They are God's creatures, after all."

"He can have 'em," Pastor Owens muttered into her coffee mug.

"Why don't we try getting rid of them ourselves?" suggested Pastor Larssen.  "How hard can this be? We are intelligent, resourceful people.  I'm sure we can figure it out."

The other two agreed.  They would each make independent attempts at bat-removal, with an eye toward reporting back to each other about successes and failures.  After draining their mugs all three stood up, grimly wished each other luck, and marched off, determined not to be bested by winged rodents.

A week later they were back in the diner. 

"I really thought noise would work," Pastor Larssen groaned, head in his hands.  "They hated the playing of the organ so much, I thought if I made a whole lot of clamor they'd decide to move to a quieter neighborhood.  But it didn't matter what I did -- organ, cymbals, air horn, none of it worked.  Finally, in frustration, I went up there with a shotgun; not to hurt them, mind you.  I just thought the explosion would scare them off."

"And?"  Asked Father Mike.

"Now I need an exterminator and a roofer.  And my wife thinks I'm an idiot."
"I decided to try trapping them," said Father Mike.  "Humane traps.  My sister's husband knew where to get them and how to use them.  He helped me set them up.  We even managed to catch them all!  Then I borrowed his truck, put the bats in the back, and scouted around for likely place for them to live.  I drove for about an hour, I'd say, until I found a spot that looked just perfect!  It was a meadow full of wildflowers, with trees round the edges of it.  I figured they could live in the trees, eat the bugs from the meadow.  Right?  So I let them loose."  He stopped to take a swig of coffee.  "Those bats made it back to the church before I did."

The Methodist minister sat quietly sipping her drink, and only looked up when she felt both pairs of eyes on her.

"Well?" asked the priest.  "How did you do?"

"Oh, I got rid of mine," said Pastor Owens.

"What!?!  Well don't just sit there, Susan, tell us what you did!"

She sighed.

"I thought this over for most of last week, wondering what on earth I could do to make them leave my church and not return.  This past Sunday was the day we graduated our most recent Confirmation class...I told you, didn't I, that my dad is a minister too?"

The two men nodded.

"Thought so.  Methodist ministers get moved around a lot, but my Dad was Episcopalian.  He's been serving the same flock for almost forty years.  Seen a lot of kids grow up in his church.  Anyway, as I was looking at these teenagers and listening to the rest of the members welcome them into the congregation, I heard Dad's voice in my head.  It's something he says when he's on one of his rants, lamenting the lack young people at church. Suddenly I knew exactly what to do.

"Monday morning, I went up into the rafters with a bucket of water and the United Methodist hymnal.  It's just like Dad's said: first I baptized them, then I confirmed them, and I haven't seen one of them since."

Cue: rim shot.

Okay, really it was more about church than bats.  

Okay! Bats it is. Watch this space.

And in the meantime, give a little listen to this:

Jake Shimabukuro - While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Solo)

I'm know this guy's made the round on blogs and YouTube before, and it may have even been this song, but I just bumped into it yesterday on Coverville's "Top 40 of 2010" podcasts and was struck (maybe not for the first time. Can't remember what I heard him play the first time, it might have been this) by how talented this man is.