Daily Archives: February 25, 2011

Acorn Oakley, the Squirrel Shootin’ Saga

The view from my kitchen window

I feel a confession coming on. Maybe it’s good for the soul and maybe it’s this rotten cold and the attendant medications bringing on my need to bare soul about the Shameful Squirrel Saga. 

 The background: I have bird feeders in my overwhelming kiwi hedge, three of them and a suet feeder. The winter birds love this because they can take cover in the hedge and avoid the high flying hawks and the low walking neighbor cats. I loathe the kiwi hedge and love it at the same time. It grows like Kudzu for the northwest and it would reach right over the front yard and cover the house if I let it. Think slavering rose hedge in Sleeping Beauty. In spring and summer I’m  out there with shears on a weekly basis whacking off enormous chunks of it attempting some control. And yes, it does give tiny little kiwis that are sour -sweet and squish mightily in late fall attracting fruit flies.

click on the photo to see the teeny yellow bird

That being said, it’s a beautiful set of curly vines in the most gorgeous shades of brown in the winter;  and in the summer it shades the entire front yard on its quest to eat the telephone pole and the nearby trees.

 It’s a bird highway in the winter and we have juncos, chickadees, nuthatches, two kinds of finches, towhees, six kinds of sparrows, wrens, one tiny little yellow guy,  a big fat lark that is a robin’s cousin, a raucous pack of blue jays, a solitary mountain jay and various and sundry other visitors that include evil squirrels and nasty starlings. They are such fun to watch out the picture window in the kitchen.  Who has a picture window in the kitchen? I do, along with two ‘wing’ windows that open on either side of the big picture. I trade my delight in the window for the fact that I lost an entire wall in the kitchen. It was there when we moved in so we just accept and enjoy it and cope with the lack of counter space.

Demon Squirrels, this one safe in San Francisco

Watching the squirrels completely destroy the feeders and chase away the birds just fried my hide. “I need a gun”, I said to my husband and he handed me his old his pellet gun. Visions of my childhood with wretched neighbor boys in short pants shooting songbirds danced in my head and I had to ask Terry about his gun toting history. He swears he never shot at a bird and that this just like a beebee gun, it only stings and scares them away.

this one is in my back yard taunting the cat

 He shot at a few denizens of the ‘hood to demonstrate which included squirrels and starlings and sure enough they ran away. He showed me how to load the pellet pistol and pump it up three times. I told him I am a really good shot and was he sure about this? Yes, it only stings, I was assured.

 The next day: Squirrel!  The fluffy-tailed rat was ripping apart the feeder even though squirrel food is provided not two feet away.  Gun loaded, window slid open, aim, fire, and I hit the squirrel. It dropped off the feeder like a rock and fell on the ground. Twitching.

Beer swilling rats...

 Nope, it did not get stung and run away. It lay on the ground and twitched and tried to get up. I felt like I had been sent to the outer circle of hell. I didn’t want to kill anything, I just wanted to sting it and scare it and here I had obviously inflicted mortal damage. I have to confess I was not brave enough to man up Nancy, and go out and finish the job like an Angelina Jolie hit woman of the squirrel world.  No, I had to call my husband and have him drive all the way home and put the squirrel out of my misery.  When the chips were down I turned into a girl, the kind that jumps on the table squealing when she sees a mouse, sigh…

Squirrel? Delivery Man? Package? Religious door-to-door nut? Ball? WHERE?

 I don’t shoot at squirrels anymore, nor do I let Terry shoot at squirrels or cats. Pellet guns are not beebee guns; they are really truly guns in a small way. Now I just put more food for the squirrels in their feeder and when they attack the birds’ feeders I yell, “Squirrel!” to Nelly the Rat Terrier who goes baying down the stairs like a Sasquatch is tearing up her  yard and she has to take care of business.  

I am so good I can find you and bite you with my eyes closed!

I do however take pleasure in shooting nasty starlings. Just call me Acorn Oakley.

September 19th 2006, Breathing Lessons

September 12, good times

I have developed a list now and every night I send an email message out into the universe to all the people who care about Terry. Hopefully, everyone is not sick of the updates. This feels like going to the movies and waiting for the happy ending, sometimes it takes a while. It feels like we’re in the part of the scary movie where everyone in the audience is either holding their breath or screaming at the dumb high school couple to stay in the car. I’m waiting to see what happens next too.

Today was a great day, after some discussion this morning the doctors decided to risk taking out the tube down Terry’s throat that was supporting his breathing. He was breathing on his own—they think—but his lungs were such a mess they wanted to give him all the help they could with extra oxygen, hence the tube down the throat.

The tube was obviously distressing him so it was better to risk pulling it out at this point. I came back in to the ICU after taking a break while they removed the tube to find a guy I finally recognized–and one who was much, much happier. He is still not all the way out of the woods but today he had his eyes open for long periods of time and he even managed to croak out hello when asked. I think he is all together in there and I am so happy about it.

Every time we went somewhere with a hill, Terry parked my bike for me because I don't do heavy and backwards real well. This shot is at St Helen's with a whole pack of friends.

The analogy would be that he is stuck in a tent taking a nap and he can’t find the zipper to get back out. We know he’s in there—and we can’t show him the zipper, he has to find it to get out and reconnect with us. He’s making great strides and we are all really happy about it. We still have a very long way to go but seeing him actually take a real nap and snore because he was finally comfortable just about made me cry.

He’s still very restless, you can tell his back is killing him and that he hurts all over in spite of the epidural. He is the color of an eggplant from the back of his knees to his neck and I cannot imagine how that must feel.  He kept trying to grab the line that was in his nose and yank on it so I spent an energetic day keeping that from happening. He managed to scratch his nose, his ear and his itchy beard in spite of the fact that he has on a collar. His neck has some little fractures on the flanges on the side–doctors say no big deal he doesn’t need the flanges that much but the collar helps them heal. I’m saying a prayer that tomorrow is even better. We are starting to think about being able to come home sometime next week.

I love this shot of vibrant healthy Terry. This was the day he started construction on my fabulous studio building.

Terry will most likely be transported to the rehab center at Providence St Peter Hospital, but I still don’t know enough yet to come up with any solid answers about the future. I’m taking it one day, one hour, one minute at a time.