Monthly Archives: August 2013

Changing The Name Game

A perfect weapon.  Because, after all, what’s in a name?

 

My thanks for this video, and for being the first person to encourage me to start a blog, goes to my friend and colleague Bao.

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Filed under Campaigning, Climate Change, Conspicuous consumption, Elections, Humor, Hypocrisy, Law, Pets, Sandy, Stupidity

Passing Through

It’s a place I’ve tried to avoid since the turn of the millennium.  I pass through there regularly, but I bite my lip, swallow past that huge lump in my throat, and try not to cry.  I do not stop.

That’s because it’s such a lovely place with a huge hole.  Last year that hole got bigger.  Not just for me but for all the folks who love its windy, tree lined roads, its historic houses, its New Englandness.  For all those who love children.  For all those who hate violence.

My sister Judy lived there.  I miss her.

I was forced to go through there.  As we drove north to Maine on Saturday, traffic came to a halt.  I knew the roads from a few decades of driving them.   I took them to get where we were going.  Yes,  we got off the highway, and I wound my way down the streets of Newtown, Connecticut.  Through Sandy Hook.

We stopped for gas at a Mobil station right next to the Blue Colony Diner, where my sister helped me laugh through my troubles thirty years ago.  Where the two of us solved all the world’s problems over coffee and pie.  Where we laughed and cried, but mostly laughed.

On the door of the gas station was a sign that made me cry, too.  But in a different way.

Google

Google

Yes.  Sandy Hook Chooses Love. Love over hate.  Love over violence.  Love over the 2nd Amendment.

And so do I.

 

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Filed under Childhood Traumas, Criminal Activity, Driving, Family, Gun control, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, History, Politics, Stupidity

Boaring Followup

When I wrote my story about Cooper and the wild boar he tried to befriend, well, I did it as a way to make my peace with my furry friend’s passing.

And as frequently happens when I write about things that hurt my heart, my blogging buddies have all helped me through what has been a sad few days.  Thanks.  It has made a difference.

Karen, from Mom in the Muddle commented that she’d never known anyone with a wild boar story  And it occurred to me that I have several.

So I thought I’d tap that keg one more time, and tell you my other wild boar stories.

Spoiler Alert:  Nobody dies.  You’re welcome.

Boaring-story #1

Linda was an English angel.  We met when she came to my door about six months after we moved to Switzerland.  By that point, I was incredibly lonely – my French was, ummm, sucky, and I knew very few people.

Then Linda knocked on my door. She spoke English.  And she was moving in down the street with her husband and two, count ‘em two kids – a girl Jacob’s age (Catherine) and a boy (James) a year younger.  Friends for my son!  Did I mention that she was English.  And that she spoke English?

While Linda was visiting that first afternoon, John called. I told him that we had a new neighbor who spoke English and that I wasn’t going to let her leave.  I said this in front of Linda.  Somehow, she didn’t take me to be some sort of psychopath and became my friend in spite of what must have seemed like a creepy thing to say.

Anyway, one evening after Cooper and I had our encounter,  Linda was driving down the busy road that was next to our house.  Linda drove a large, green Mitsubishi Montero, and that night she struck a fully grown, male wild boar.  Only a car that size could have won such a jousting match.  Linda was unhurt, and she called the local police, the gendarme, to report it.  The men in uniform came rushing.

Now what do you think was their first question?  Did they ask if she was hurt?  If her car was alright?  If she was traumatized by hitting and killing a beast that weighed as much as a truck?

No.  Wrong on all counts.

“Madam, do yu vant it?” they said in heavily French-accented English.  “Ze sanglier?  Ze body?  Ze boar?” 

You see, the meat from wild boar is a much sought after delicacy in Switzerland and France.  Linda was unaware of that fact.

Linda straightened her British backbone, stiffened her British upper lip and said in her most refined British accent:

“Why No.”

Image from gourmetfly.com

Image from gourmetfly.com

Linda’s boar was given to a local bistro in the next town.  The served sanglier à la chaise for the rest of the season.

Google, natch

Google, natch

I didn’t try it out of respect for Cooper’s pal, the boar who didn’t kill us.  It only seemed fair.

*   *   *

Boaring story #2

In mid-2000 we moved a short ways away, across the border into France.  There we had a lovely house, but the dog walks were less spectacular.

Still, every night after Jacob went to bed, John or I would take Coops for a walk.  We took turns, because Jacob was still too young to leave alone.  We were still surrounded by farm fields, but the views and the walks now along town streets that meandered alongside of farm fields, instead of farm roads that criss-crossed them.  These roads were built for cars, and darn it all, people used them to drive on!

John insisted on taking a flashlight whenever he went for a walk at night.  I thought he was a pansy.  I mean, really, there were streetlights here and there, plus your eyes adjust to the darkness and I for one could see just fine in the dark, thank you very much.  I was not a pansy; I didn’t carry a flashlight.

And you know, that was probably just as well, because one night while Cooper and I were out, we walked down a road that was busy enough to require me to leash Coops.  And it was a good thing.  Because as we came around a curve I noticed something silhouetted in the streetlight 30 feet ahead of us – a full grown, tusked, wild boar.

Thanks, Google But our boar's tusks were way bigger

Thanks, Google
But our boar’s tusks were way bigger

Male wild boars have tusks that protrude from their lower jaw.  They use these tusks to skewer dogs and people who displease them.

Cooper and I stood very still and watched him.  The streetlight glistened on his tusks which were quite large.  I figured they would easily go through either Cooper or I.  Maybe both.

Unless we died from the stench.  Wild boars seem to have an aversion to water.  And soap.

After about 10 minutes that seemed a whole lot longer, Pumba moved on into the farm field on the other side of the road.  There was a dip of about two feet between the road and the field, and Pumba negotiated it easily.

Phew!  Another boaring averted.

*   *   *

Boaring-story #3

Naturally, I started to become a wee bit nervous.  Paranoid.  Fearful of large mammals that might kill me and my dog.

I was pretty sure I wouldn’t do anything stupid around a wild animal.  I respected them.  I admired their strength.  Their wildness.  Their ability to kill me if I ticked them off.  So I knew that I was safe.

Cooper? There was not even the slightest chance that he would be sensible. So during the fall, when the wild boar were known to be around, I kept him on the leash in the evenings.  I was learning.

I did decide that maybe my husband John wasn’t such a pansy after all.  Perhaps, I thought, just perhaps, a flashlight wasn’t such a stupid idea.  It could let me see what was going to attack me, although sometimes I think you’re better off not knowing what’s gonna hit you.  Still, maybe having a flashlight would give me a blunt instrument with which to defend myself.   I looked at the six-inch plastic flashlight in my hand and realized that I was totally screwed in the weapons department.

One night, not long after Cooper and I had seen Pumba basking in the streetlamp, that we had another sighting.  I was starting to worry that my luck just couldn’t continue.  Time was running out.  How many times can you be in close contact with a wild boar without getting boared?

It was getting on towards December.  There was a distinct chill in the air.  The leaves were off the trees, the shrubs were bare .  The moon was full that night, and so I left the flashlight at home.  I could see just fine in the bright light that needed no batteries.  Of course, just when I needed the moon, it chose to disappear.  And that is when I looked to my left and saw the dim outline of yet another wild boar.   And this one was even bigger.

This wildlife crap was beginning to get on my nerves.

“SHIT!!!!” I thought.  “What is with these pigs?  Do I have a ‘Gore me’ sign on my back?  Or one that says ‘Secretly wants to be Boared?’ ” 

Does Mother Nature truly have a warped sense of humor?

In the dim light, I could just see the animal slowly walking, straight towards me and Cooper.  We slowly backed away, but it kept coming.  Slowly and steadily it lumbered our way, prolonging my fear.  Why not kill me and get it over with?

I swear, this animal was even bigger than the last boar we’d seen.  From its size and shape, I figured it was possibly the largest wild boar on earth.

And then, just when it was at the edge of the field, about 20 feet away from frozen me and squirming Cooper, something surprising happened.

The wild boar mooed

 

There was a whole mess of them Google Image

There was a whole mess of these scary critters
Google Image

The farmer had apparently just moved his herd of cows to that field the other boar had crossed.  It had previously been empty.  The moon came back out and shined down on me, as I laughed uproariously.  Cooper looked confused but he wagged his tail and tugged on his leash.  He wanted to play with the cows.  Of course, they don’t much like dogs, either.

*    *    *

Cooper and I never again met a wild boar.  And you know what?  That suits me just fine.  Because dealing with one sanglier was memorable.  A whole herd of them was just getting boaring

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Filed under Awards, Cooper, Dogs, Family, Geneva Stories, Humor, Pets, Stupidity, Wild Beasts

Letting Go

It promised to be a glorious day, and magically, I woke up early.  I snuck out of bed without waking John, grabbed some clothes and went quietly to the living room.  I opened the shutters and looked out to see the slightest bits of pink light starting to color the sky outside.  Dawn was just breaking, and it looked to be a beautiful start.

“Wanna take a walk?” I asked Cooper, my year-and-a-half old Springer Spaniel.

Cooper wagged his tail, and headed towards the door.  We grabbed his leash, my red jacket, and headed out into the morning.

And the morning was glorious.  A November morning.  Indian Summer, if there can be Indian Summer in Switzerland where there never were too many Indians.

We lived in the midst of dog and dog-lovers’ heaven.  Our tiny house was located on the outskirts of a small village 20 minutes outside of Geneva, Switzerland in farm country.  Our chalet looked just like a cuckoo-clock, and it stood as the last clock on a rural lane in what looked like a display of seven cuckoo-clock houses.  Across the dirt road from the clocks were farm fields.  The fields crossed the road to the left of our house and went on and on.  Wheat, corn, hay, sunflowers, rape seed.  The fields sloped gently down and gave way to vineyards and apple orchards until the hills gently ended at the town of Nyon and Lake Geneva.  The Alps, with Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps, rose above the Lake and the other mountains, as if placing its arms around the gang of mountains it hung out with.

Not a bad location

Not a bad view*
(I’m pretty sure this is one of my pictures.)

Magestic.  Magical.  Make-your-heart-sing-like-Julie-Andrews-beautiful.

It was about 5:30 when Cooper and I headed out.  We crossed the busy road that ran to the left of our house, and I let him off the leash.  It was getting lighter, and I walked and watched my dog run, both of us smiling.  He’d run a bit, then come back to check on me and run off once again.

Springer Spaniels are expressive dogs – their sad looks can melt your heart.  But when they run, they embody joy.  Pure and simple joy.   And on that morning, Cooper ran with abandon through harvested corn fields that we passed first.  His ears flapped and happiness spread across his face as he ran and jumped over cornstalks and literally ran circles around me in his delight.

We continued on the straight farm road that paralleled the Lake, passed fallow fields to where the road turned at a right angle and led us downhill towards the lake.  By now, it was lighter — I could just start to make out Nyon Castle in the distance, although it was so far away that if you didn’t know it was there, you really couldn’t see it.   The road crossed another farm road, and so we turned to the right again to continue on our normal loop that would lead us home, after a walk of about 2-1/2 miles.  It was full morning, now; the sun glistened on Lake Geneva, the snow topped peaks and me and Cooper.

Up ahead on the left and right were fields of grass that would soon be harvested for hay.  Cooper ran ahead and disappeared into the tall grass.  I watched as the grass parted, showing me just where he was and how far he’d run.

But then I noticed a second line where the grass was parting for somebody else.  Or something  else.  Whatever it was, it was heading straight towards Cooper.

Possibly the best way to describe Cooper would be as a fur-covered marshmallow.  Everything inside — good and sugary.   As a soft, squishy, completely sweet thing, Cooper didn’t  understand aggression.  Somehow it all worked out though – aggressive dogs never attacked or bothered him.  Cooper wanted to play, and his playfulness was infectious.  Even the most aggressive dogs found him endearingly stupid; and they always played with the sweet dope.

Still, when frightened, Cooper became a complete coward.  If something frightened him, well, Cooper would run to me and hide behind my legs.  Or behind John’s legs or later, behind  Jacob’s.  An all-inclusive coward, he’d hide behind us one and all.

So when the two paths in the grass converged, I wasn’t surprised at all to see Cooper come springing out, his face the picture of delight.  He had a new friend, and was running towards me to share the good news.

There are some friends you just shouldn’t introduce to your mother.  This was one.

Cooper had met a wild boar.  An enormous, wild f’ing boar.

Google Image

Google Image

She came out of the grass, and stopped in the middle of the road and stood there, all 250 pounds of her.  She strutted her impressive bulk and looked from side to side.

I stood there, frozen, my mouth agape.  I watched her breathe, knowing that I was unlikely to remember this meeting fondly.

I could see the sun touch the edges of her coarse, bristled fur where it was lighter than the part that came out of her back or side or anywhere else on her 250 pounds or so of solid flesh.

I could hear her breathing from about 75 feet away, as I backed up slowly.  She breathed in and out, sometimes through her snout, and sometimes in wet breaths through her lips, which flapped occasionally.  She breathed loudly.

I could smell her.  She needed a bath.  Or a run through a field of lavender, preferably in France.

SHIT!

We had been warned about wild boar, but in spite of long twice daily walks through the fields, we had never seen hide nor hair nor bristle; we didn’t worry.  Cooper was delighted with his new friend.  And he rushed over towards me to tell me so.  I wasn’t so easily smitten.

Wild boars do not like dogs, they are known to attack and kill them.  They aren’t fond of people, either.  And rumor has it they aren’t terribly playful.  And I wasn’t anxious to turn my lovely morning walk into a learning experience, either.

I looked over in the direction of the house and suddenly realized something extremely important:

It’s a long crawl home.

“Cooper, Come!”  I shouted, stupidly, automatically.

In fact, I was not sure I really wanted him to come to me.  Would I take on a wild boar to save my dog?  Not if I thought about it logically.  But then logic really has very little room in the brain of a dog-lover.  Of course I would have taken on a wild boar to save my younger, dumb son.  And of course, I would have lost.  Especially since, in looking about, I realized that we were in the middle of a farm field and there wasn’t so much as a protective twig in sight.  Damn the compulsively tidy Swiss.

I did not want to be wild boared.

Cooper, oblivious to the danger he was dancing around, he kept going up to the boar, prancing in front of her, running in circles around her, begging her to chase him, just like his doggy pals did.

“Come on, play!” he was obviously saying.

“Go away,” she was clearly thinking as she aimed a cold, bored glare at him.

I was pretty sure that if she chased him, it wouldn’t be to play.  And then naturally, Cooper would panic, not know what to do.  Oh who am I kidding – Cooper’s first and only though would be “MOM!”  and he would run and hide behind me.  And the boar would kill me, an innocent bystander.

I looked at my red jacket, glad I had worn that one so that they could find my crumpled, maimed, boar-ed body more easily.

“Dammit, Cooper, Come!  Now!” I said more softly, trying to get him to leave her alone.

Nobody ever listens to me.

Cooper ran away from the boar towards me at last, but then he turned and ran back to her, again, circled around wagging his tail furiously, still trying to get her to play.

But suddenly, the situation changed.  “Cooper, Come.  Now!” I screamed it this time.

Because the boar had turned her head.  She was now looking at me.

Naturally, Cooper ran around her again and fortunately she forgot about me in her irritation at the stupid dog.  The boar, who seemed to have finally caught her breath, looked at Cooper like he was her pesky little brother.  She shook her head once more, dismissive of the pest, and continued on her way uphill through the grass field.  The grass separated as she pushed her way through.

Cooper came back to me, defeated, deflated, rejected.  He looked sad in that tearful, long-eared way only a Springer spaniel can have.  My boy’s feelings had been hurt.  I was glad it had only been his feelings.

*    *    *

Cooper loved those fields, where he could cavort in relative safety, where he could run free, with his ears flapping.  Doggy Heaven.  Of course, it really didn’t matter where he was, Cooper was happy wherever he was, as long as John, Jacob and I were there with him.

Today, that’s where Cooper is  —  in doggy heaven.  I am sure that he is back in the fields near Gingins, Switzerland.  Running with unrestrained joy, looking out over Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc and the Alps.   He’ll have his young dog body back, with no aches, pains or problems.

I hope he doesn’t run into any wild boars, though.  Because it’ll be a while before John, Jacob or I will join him.  For a while, there’ll be nobody for Coops to hide behind.

The Boys in the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland

The Boys in the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland

Cooper

March 9, 1998 – August 13, 2013

*   *   *

To vote for this story in BlogHer, please go to:  http://www.blogher.com/node/1393485/voty?category=VOTY%20-%20Heart%3A%20Feel%20it.  Thanks!

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Filed under Cooper, Dogs, Freshly Pressed, Geneva Stories, History, Humor, Pets, Wild Beasts

Eggscruciating Mistakes

Normally, I like to wait until about noon to face the day’s failure.  FailureS.

In fact, I try to put this knowledge off as long as possible.  Some days I wait to learn what I’ve done wrong until it’s time to leave the office when I realize all the things I’ve forgotten to do.  Usually with someone chasing me to the elevator saying “did you … ?”

Other times, helpful drivers point out my driving failures with a finger gesture on my way home.

On yet other days, I wait until I get home, where my husband, son, dog or the resident birds and squirrels can chip away at my self-esteem.

Not today.

Nope.

Today, since I woke up early (and learned that I picked the wrong lottery numbers by mistake), I treated myself to a nice breakfast.  Eggs!  And as I sat down to enjoy their yellow, fluffy goodness, I realized that I was a total failure.  I made mistakes cooking my eggs.

It’s true.  Huffington Post told me so — during my second bite, when I clicked on this article:

9 Mistakes You’re Making With Scrambled Eggs

Apparently I am easily satisfied because mine tasted great.  But who am I to know? Photo:  Google, of course.

Apparently I am easily satisfied because mine tasted great. But who am I to know?
Photo: Google, of course.

My own misteggs caught in my throat on the second bite.

It’s going to be a bad day.

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Filed under Criminal Activity, Diet tips, Driving, Family, Humor