Sunday, March 1, 2015

Like Mice in a Trap


          Our accountant has an office in a two story building that also houses offices of various other professionals.  It’s a beautiful building with an indoor waterfall and a few reflection ponds.  Tall broad leaf plants reach to the top of the second story.  It gives the illusion of being in a park rather than inside a man-made structure.
                I’m telling you this because we had a meeting with our accountant in that particular building this past Friday at five 0’clock.  An odd time to be sure, but because tax season is in full swing he often works beyond the traditional five o’clock time when other professionals go home to relax with their families.
                Our meeting lasted roughly an hour and at the conclusion he told us that exterior door to the building would  most likely be locked.  Not a problem he said, because from the inside one only has to twist the lock to the right and it opens then automatically locks again when the door falls shut.
                We gathered our tax support papers and took the elevator to the first floor lobby.  Enjoying the beautiful d├ęcor we strolled to the door and indeed found it locked.  Bruce, my husband, turned the dead bolt to the right as instructed and gave the door a push.  It remained locked.  He twisted the bolt to the left and pushed again.  The door remained stubbornly locked. 
                With my superior woman fortitude, I gave it a try.  First turning it to the right as instructed and then to the left.  The lock would not budge.  I noted there were three distinct clicks when the bolt was turned so I tried each position.  The door obstinately remained locked.
                At this point I suggested that Bruce go back up to the accountant’s office to ask for more specific instructions or some physical assistance.   I heard his footfalls fade and then the I heard the elevator door slide shut with a faint ding followed by a  whir as it made  its way up to the second story.   I continued to fruitlessly turn the blot left, then right, then left, and then right again.
                From somewhere on the opposite side of the building I thought I heard the soft whoosh of a door closing followed by a very distinct “click.”  Joy oh happy joy,   someone else was on the first floor.  I dashed though the maze of plants, fountains and rounded the waterfall just in time to see our accountant exiting though another door.   That’s right, another exterior door.  Let me make this clear… there was another exterior  door.  Who knew?
                I called out his name and ran toward that door.  I reached it just in time to see his red tail lights fading out of the back parking lot… there was a back parking lot? who knew?
                I tried pushing on the door.  It was locked.  I tried turning the bolt to the right then to the left.  Sadly, It like the main front door, remained securely in place.  From somewhere above me I faintly heard Bruce pounding on a door and yelling “Mike..Mike..are you in there?”
                Well, I knew Mike wasn’t up there because he had just pulled out of the parking lot. The question was how he got past Bruce.   Then I turned around and saw a set of stair that led up to the second floor.  Apparently Mike was descending the stairs while Bruce was going up in the elevator. This building was a maze! No one told us about the stairs or the second exterior door.  Reluctantly and with an ominous feeling I trudged up the stairs.
                When I reached the second floor It was obvious that no one was left up there except Bruce.   All the offices were dark.  Only a couple of dim overhead lights remained on in the corridor.
                I frantically told Bruce that Mike had just left through a back door that he locked behind him and that we appeared to be the only two people left inside.
                I’m telling you that it is a rather odd feeling to be locked inside a two story building on a Friday night with a full weekend ahead.  If ever I wanted to own a cell phone this was the time.  The thought of spending three nights inside a locked building sent a rush of total panic through me.
                We were hungry, stressed, and we both had to use the rest room.  Regrettably we had walked past a restroom in the accountant’s office, but neither of us could remember seeing a public one anywhere in the building, but then we had missed the back door and back parking lot as well.
                We checked every door on the second floor.  All locked, dark, or dimly lit inside and no sign of a public restroom anywhere.    We took the elevator back down to the lobby and checked every office door on the first floor as well.  They were all locked as well and no public restroom.
                Suddenly a flash of cars headlights flooded in though the large glass front of the building’s lobby.  We ran to the door and pounded on it as the car turned around and parked with its tail toward us.  We pounded on the door and yelled to no avail.  We could see the dim green LED glow of a cell phone in use inside the car.  Someone was apparently sitting there texting.  From their angle and distance they couldn’t see or hear us.        After about ten minutes the car pulled away and drove down the street.
Nearly an hour had passed since I saw the accountant drive away, and we were getting desperate. We wandered aimlessly throughout the building looking for security cameras or some sort of alarm device that we could activate.  We did find a fire alarm, but we thought we should reserve that for a last ditch effort to save ourselves.  The thought of all the paper work with fire officials was intimidating.   We would do it though, if all else failed.  All else did seem to be failing at the moment.
We considered breaking a window, but there was nothing to break it with.  The benches were anchored in cement and the waterfalls rocks were mortared in place.  The potted plants were in containers that were about the size of a refrigerator.  There was absolutely nothing we could use.
                In the end we sulked on a bench  for a bit and tried to analyze our unbelievable predicament.   Then it happened… I caught sight of a person walking toward the building.   We jumped up and rushed to the door and tried to get the attention of an elderly man walking somewhat in our general direction, then not in our general direction, then again in our general direction.  He was carrying several large trash bags. 
                As he drew closer then turned and walked away, then turned back again in our direction it became obvious he was a homeless person.   He appeared to be totally disoriented, possibly drunk and talking or singing to himself.   It was like watching a ball roll around in a pinball machine.  Off in one direction then back in another Every time he turned toward us our hopes soared.
 He finally got close enough that we could see him fairly clearly.  We banged on the door and shouted for him to get help.
                For what seemed to be an eternity, he remained oblivious then something we were doing seemed to catch his eye.  He looked at us from about eight feet away, grinned then turned in tight circles dancing and singing.   The plastic bags extended from his arms and flew around him like fluttering wings of a bird as he turned. 
                From time to time he would stop and look at us seeming seeing but not seeing then he would start his silly twisting dance again.   Finally he set the bags down and walked toward the door.   I told Bruce to grab a piece of our tax papers and “Call 911” on it.
                The man came a bit closer and appeared to read the note.  Maybe he thought we were going to call 911 if he didn’t leave because he put up his hands in the universal sign of resignation and backed away.  He picked up his bags and walked out of sight as we frantically pounded on the door and yelled “Come back. Call 911”
                For a while we had hope that he understood and would tell someone about the  two crazy people inside a dark building, but as time passed we resigned ourselves to the fact that he most likely moved down to the next alcove and was fast asleep in a drunken stupor thinking he had imagined it all.
                Isn’t it silly what we do in desperation?  As time passed we took the elevator to the second floor again to double check the already triple checked locked office doors.  We rattled each one hoping to maybe set off an alarm or by some miracle we would alert  a poor secretary still salving away somewhere in a back office.  It helped pass the time, and made us feel like we were doing something useful.  
                Returning the main lobby we sat down on the bench again.  We tried to make light of our situation, but after a while the jovial bantering began to wear on us and we sat in silence.  
                When a large van pulled up in front of the building and the headlights shown directly on us we just turned and stared numbly into the blinding light.  When we heard the slide doors open then close we jumped to our feet and ran toward the front door.  We were completely blinded by the glare of the lights, but we waved our hands and yelled “We are locked in…Help”
                As silhouettes moved back and forth in front of the headlights were able to discern the images of what appeared to be two women and a man.  The man was on his cell phone and the women were headed back to the van.
I am sure they thought that two people were ransacking the medical offices in the building looking for drugs.  That is the first thing that would have come to my mind if I were on the outside looking in.
                The man returned to the van and backed it up about twenty or so feet.  At that point we were able to see the logo on the side of the vehicle indicating it was a cleaning service.  
                Before long additional help arrived …in the form of flashing red and blue lights on two vehicles.  From the cautionary actions of the police our relief of being freed soon turned to thoughts of spending the night, or maybe the rest of our lives, locked in jail.  If you ever want to feel like a criminal without really being one, I suggest you get locked in a building after closing hours.  
 In time it all turned out alright.  Our appointment with the accountant was verified and so was our ability to stupidly get ourselves locked in a building.  No fire alarms were pulled, no medical offices broken into. Plain and simple it was obvious we were Just two people caught like mice in a trap.
                I’m wondering if any of this could be written off as a tax deduction.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I bought a small shrink wrap machine set-up for a friend of ours who is starting out a Hand Made Soap business. She will pick it up in a couple of days but... well, you know Lucy...I had to try it out. Actually I've been looking at everything that doesn't move and wondering how it would look shrink-wrapped.The problem is it is a small set up and will only work on things 5 inches wide or less which means most of the household objects are safe for the time being.

Anyway to make a long story even longer, the friend I bought the set-up for gave us a couple bars of soap as a thank you gift for helping her out, so I decided to shrink wrap them. After all, if you are going to do a test run on something then doing it on the actual item makes sense.

I don't know if you've ever used shrink wrap equipment, so I'll give you a quick review . First you put the object you want to shrink wrap in a special plastic bag then you put it on a machine with a heat tape to seal the bag. Once you have done that then you then use a hot air gun to shrink the plastic bag firmly around the object.

Now, here's the thing (and this is kind of important) They call them heat guns for a reason. They get hot. Really really hot. Hot enough in fact, to peel paint off a wall or varnish off furniture. As a further point of fact, if a heat gun is aimed at anything longer than about 3 seconds the result can be a spontaneous combustible flaming inferno. As in POOF instant fire. Don't ask me how I figured that out, but suffice it to say I firmly believe that those kitchen sink sprayer attachments really should come with a longer hose...what were the manufacturers thinking by making them so short that they only spray the sink and immediate area?

But I digress, I should have begun this tale by explaining first about the sealer. You see, a shrink-wrap sealer is a unique thing that looks like a gigantic stapler. It even sort of works like a stapler. You lay the plastic bag with the object in it on the heat tape then
depress the lever ..not rocket science. It is actually quite simple and straight forward. One only has to look at the equipment to understand it's simplicity.

Ahhh, yes. So here is what happened:

I plugged the incredible heat sealer in and then, seeing the heat regulating dial went from 1 to 6, I wisely chose the #2 heat setting which seemed to be a good starting point for the test. Believing I had made a sound judgement call, I sat back and waited. Nothing happened. The heat tape did not get hot. It didn't even get warm. I know this because I kept testing it with my fingers. Before long, I moved the dial to the #4 setting. Still nothing happened. Again, I know this because I used the old-fashioned lick the finger and see if it sizzles it on the heat tape routine. If it sizzles, the tape is hot, if it doesn't then the tape is still cold. When my finger didn't sizzle so I deduced the heat tape was still cold, so I moved the dial to #6 and went though the routine again. Still nothing.

Saddened that I had bought a faulty shrink wrap set up for my friend I decided to take immediate action. I found the phone number of the crook that sold the equipment to me and gave him a call. I haughtily told him I was not happy because he sold me a bad machine. A really really bad machine because it didn't get hot.

He patiently asked how long I had it plugged in and I told him it was about 10 or so minutes which, in my opinion, was plenty long for the contraption to heat up. He remained calm and apologized saying that he sold the machine to me "Brand New" as described. He added that he hadn't tested it, but he had never had problems in the past with them. He added that he would happily refund my money if I returned the machine.

As we were about to end the conversation he asked if I still had it plugged in. I said I did. He said "So let me go over this are telling me that when you put the plastic in the sealer and depress the lever nothing happens?" I sighed and said "Look mister, I didn't even get that far because the tape never did get hot." There was silence on the other end of the connection for a couple of beats then he said "Did you read the instructions?" I said "No but that is irrelevant because the heat tape never did get hot."

He said "Ok, well one of two things...either I can tell you what you are doing wrong or you can read the instructions." I said " Fine, why don't you tell me what magic will make it this defunct machine work?" I can't be certain, but I thought I could sense him smiling and that really upset me Fortunately for him, I held my temper and listened while he said "If you read the instructions you will find the machine has a safety feature. The tape only, I repeat only, heats up when you put the plastic in and depress the lever, otherwise it remains cold."

There was silence on the phone again for a couple of beats, but this time it was me being silent... then quietly I said "So you are telling me that when the lever is up the tape does not heat up and that it is only when it is depressed onto the plastic it does?" I sensed another grin from him as he said "You got it" "Excuse me" I said Could you please hold on a minute ?"

Setting the phone down, I put a piece of plastic in the sealer machine and depressed the lever and son-of-heatgun it worked." There was nothing left for me to do except apologize profusely and disconnect. So I did.

Having successfully sealed the bar of soap in the bag, I next used the heat gun portion of the set up to shrink the plastic around it. This brings me back to the portion of this tale where I began . Really I'm serious about this; manufacturers should defiantly put longer hoses on kitchen sink sprayers. You know...just in case a person wanted to put out small fire or something.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Case of the Thwarted Prowler

Our entire ranch is encompassed by a six foot high livestock fence. Most of that fence has 2 strands of electric wire running along it. At night the gates are closed and locked, and we have a motion sensor alarms that let us know when a vehicle comes up our drive and when something is moving around on our property. We also have 2 dogs that patrol the area Well, ok maybe we can't really count on the dogs for security because they mostly wander about looking for small rodents or grasshoppers to chase.

Still, it would be pretty difficult for someone or something to prowl around unnoticed. Amazingly however, last night as my husband, Bruce, and I settled in for the evening our front motion sensor alarm sounded indicating someone or something had come up the driveway.

Since it was nearly 10pm we were startled and a bit concerned. I got up from the couch and looked out the window toward the driveway. If a vehicle had approached it would have been forced to stop at the gate that crosses the driveway about 40 feet from the house.

It was dark and I couldn't tell if there was a vehicle there or not, but there were no headlights shinning up toward the house . While Bruce slipped on his shoes I flicked on the porch light which did nothing to illuminate the drive way.

I grabbed a flashlight and shone it down toward the gate. I still saw nothing, nor could I detect any movement inside the gate.

Now that Bruce had his shoes on , he walked a few steps out the door and shone a large hand-held battery operated flood light down toward the gate.
"I don't see anything" he reported as he swept the front area with the light.

"It must have been the neighbors cat" he suggested, knowing full well that she locks her cat in the house at night. He does things like that so that I won't stress about things prowling around in the dark at night. I may be a farm girl, but I still worry when unidentified things go "bump" in the night.

We settled back down and watched t.v. for about half an hour, and I was just beginning to relax when the same motion alarm once again annoyingly indicated someone or something was in the driveway area.

I had the flashlight handy and my shoes on so I was the first to jump up, flick on the porch light and bolt out the door. I was determined to catch whatever or whoever was skulking about. Bruce followed with the larger brighter light. Nothing.

Our driveway makes a complete loop around the house, and allows vehicle access to the barns, coops and pens. We went into stealth mode and walked some distance together before we decided to split up. The plan was for each of us to loop in the opposite direction . I opted to take the right side of the drive (which by mere coincidence just happens to be the most open and well lit side) and told Bruce to take the left (which by contrast is the darkest and most obscured side.

Bruce walked slowly shining his light back and forth in a slow but steady sweeping motion. I walked more rapidly and mostly shone the light behind me to be sure nothing was creeping up on me.

We eventually met face to face on the back side of the loop. Neither of us had seen anything. As we waked back toward the house we heard the motion sensor sound again. Bruce ran toward the front where the sensor is located and I followed quickly, while managing to keep a safe distance behind.

When we reached the front area neither of us saw anything. "Ok that's it" Bruce said "The sensor is obviously malfunctioning...I'm going in." As he turned and walked toward the front door I started to follow, but instead lingered behind just a little. I may be a coward of sorts, but I have never let one mystery go unsolved in my life.

As Bruce closed the door behind him, I squatted down behind a shrub which offered good cover, but also allowed me to see the sensor. When something trips the sensor it sounds an alarm inside the house, but it also has a small red light on it that blinks to let us know it's working.

I waited nervously wondering if whatever was out there would come from the direction directly in front of me or from my left. Of course there was also the possibility it could scamper across the lawn toward my right or it could even approach from behind me.

I didn't have long to wait. After about 10 minutes the small red light blinked on the sensor and I knew I had the intruder. I quickly flicked on my flash light and shown it toward the sensor, then back toward the gate, then toward the house, then slowly, every so slowly I turned around and shone it behind me....nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Chuckling, I decided that Bruce was right the sensor was obviously malfunctioning. Either that or it was so high tech that it was picking up ghosts. It could be shut off from inside the house of course, but I decided it might be best to deactivate it outside, right then and there.

I bent down and shown my light directly onto the face of the sensor and to my surprise, there in full illumination stood our prowler. A tiny garden variety spider had decided to weave her web on the sensors case. Each time she spun her sparking threads of silver webbing across the sensors lens she inadvertently activated it.

I can't help but wonder if it was the blinking red light that was the deal breaker for her decision as to where to spin her web. As I looked closely I saw the web crossed the lens multiple times.

Isn't nature amazing!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tatt's All Folks!

My husband, Bruce, and I were invited to a friends house for a barbecue this past weekend. It was a small informal get together, but still I wanted to look my best, so I slipped into a nice pair of jeans and a T-shirt. To complement my sporting outfit I chose one of my favorite pairs of earrings.

Although my ears were pierced more than 20 years ago, I've always had problems with my left ear. The cosmetologist who did the work must have been having a bad day because the back side of the hole in that ear doesn't match with the front side. Putting an earring in it is next to impossible. I always end up in a rather unique contorted wrestling match with myself. In the end, without fail, I always have to ask Bruce for help.

Bruce doesn't mind helping, but he's always afraid he will hurt me, so the procedure takes longer than it should and wears on both of us. My ear was particularly resistant that day, so after struggling with me and the earring for about 20 minutes, Bruce decided we should maybe try to reopen and align the hole with a darning needle.

Bruce was about to start his armchair surgery, when a couple of friends that we had made arrangements to go the barbecue with arrived. Seeing my dilemma they did what any good friends would do...they joined Bruce and alternately took turns poking, prodding, pulling and pushing a very large needle though my ear.

In the end, we managed to open the hole and insert the earring, but I arrived at the party with a very large, unsightly, red and swollen left earlobe .

After we had eaten Diane, one of our friends, abruptly stood, grabbed my arm and announced that she and I were leaving for a little while in my vehicle because we "had an errand to run." I didn't know where we were headed until she directed me to pull into the parking lot of one of our local "Bottle Shops" that sold beer, wine and liqueur.

I couldn't imagine why we were there since neither of us drink . When I asked what we were up to she grinned and said "Get'll see"

As soon as my feet hit the ground she grasped my upper arm firmly and said "Come on, we're going up there" I followed her hand gesture toward a fairly steep set of stairs that led above the Bottle Shop to one of our many local Tattoo parlors.

Now, state of California pays ex-felons for their rehabilitation when they are released from prison. I honestly can't say how many vocational choices they are given, but from the number of shops in the area I'm guessing maybe there are only two. Harley motorcycle repair shops and Tattoo Shops.

Interestingly enough you can always tell the shop owners and employees by the way they dress. The Harley shop owners and employees regardless of the season always dress in black leathers and have an obsessive fondness for silver. Silver earrings, silver chains, silver belt buckles, silver everything. They glisten in the warm California sun.

Tattoo parlor owners and employees dress in as few articles of clothing as possible and have an obsessive fondness for displaying their wearable artwork. They are covered from head to toe in brilliant graphics. They too glisten in the warm California sun as it reflects off their numerous body piercings.

When I questioned Diane's motives she smiled coyly and said "Come'll see." Although I was slightly apprehensive I concluded that she wanted to get tiny tattoo on her left ankle to match the one on her right. Diane is impulsive but at the same time very conservative.

As I followed her up the stairs we passed a multitude of young people leaving the shop. As they passed they each in turn showed us their new works of art. One girl stuck out her tongue and said something like " oook I jus gop ma tun possed " I smiled and said "Ahh, very nice. Congratulations!" I wondered why anyone would want to do such a thing. I'm not judgmental, just a coward. It looked like it hurt.

As Diane opened the door to the Tattoo parlor we were nearly knocked down by the ear shattering rap music that engulfed us along with a billowing cloud of incense. I gave her a look that I hope implied "Girl are you out of your mind?" I concluded she was when she slipped behind me and shoved me though the door.

From somewhere behind a beaded curtain a deep baritone voice bellowed "Park your butts Dudes I'm inkin' " Diane plopped comfortably into one of the two vacant chairs that somewhat resembled barber chairs and motioned for me to take the other, "Aww come on" she pleaded "lighten up, relax this is all good." It didn't feel or look good to me, but I slipped onto the edge of the chair.

In a couple of minutes a burly bald man whom I guessed to be 8 feet 94 inches tall tossed back the beaded curtain spread his arms and said "'Sup Dudes ? Look at you!" I assume he was surprised to see two over the hill ladies sitting in his victims chairs. "Aaaah right" he continued "who am I inkin' first?"

To my absolute horror Diane leaped from her chair and shoved me all the way back info mine and said "We are going to re-pierce her ears!" The chair must have had suction cups attached to it because before I could pull my self up and out of it, the moving art show pressed one of his big hands gently but firmly just below my throat and looked at first one ear and the other. My heart raced in terror.

I must have passed out from fright at that point, because the next thing I remember Diane was leading me back down the steep stairs. I had a serious headache and both of my ears felt like someone had taken a blowtorch to them. The throbbing pain caused tears to truckle down my cheeks.

As we drove out of the parking lot I glanced longingly back at the "Bottle Shop." I secretly wished I could imbibe just a little . Diane is a good friend, and neither of us drink, but at that very moment I considered dumping a friend and taking up drinking as a new hobby.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mrs. Magoo and the Friendly Fawn

The cartoon character Mr. Magoo has been around since long before I was old enough to see him on the big screen in movie theaters. While most people find him amusing and endearing, I've always had somewhat of a standoffish attitude toward him. Even as a young child I always thought that no one could be so crotchety or so nearsighted that he'd get himself into the outrageous fixes that Quincy Magoo did. Yesterday, however, I developed a rather sudden fondness for the old coot.

Here's what happened:

Early yesterday afternoon I had an appointment with a retina specialist for an evaluation of an on-going annoying problem in my left eye. I've had many eye examinations over the years, but I've never gone though such an evasive one as I did yesterday. I don't know what they used to dilate my eyes, but it had to be some powerful stuff. Within minutes everything went fuzzy.

After the doctor did a brief first glance he asked his assistant to add some different drops to my eyes. Those drops were followed up with a dye compound and another dose of drops. By the time I walked out of his office I felt like I was maneuvering in a dense fog. I seriously have never had such obscured vision.

Since the back office nurse told me the effect would quickly wear off, I made my way out the door and attempted to find my vehicle. I knew I wasn't seeing well enough to drive, but I thought I could sit awhile and listen to the radio until the blurriness cleared.

After stumbling around the parking lot for an undetermined amount of time and setting of a wild crescendo of numerous car alarms while trying to insert my key into various vehicles that I mistook for mine, I was escorted by some unknown person or persons back to the waiting room.

A disjointed female voice came out of nowhere and said "We thought you were here with a caretaker who could drive you home... who can we call for you?" Well it's true my husband, Bruce, was with me at the onset of my appointment. He had taken an extended lunch hour to sit in on my exam however he had to leave and return to work long before the intense exam was finished. No one told me they were going to send me out into the world completely blind, otherwise he would have made other arrangements and stayed with me.

I had them call a friend who, by the way, is still giggling over the ruckus I caused in the parking lot while trying to find my vehicle.

Once I was safely deposited in the confines of my home I wandered around aimlessly trying to find something to entertain myself until the effects of the drops wore off. That gave me a new appreciation for blind people. How do they do it? Since I still couldn't see more than about a foot in front of my face I decided to listen to the television.

That idea was short lived. As soon as I settled myself in front of the t.v. with a cold Pepsi, I heard a loud fracas coming from the chickens in the pen out back. I tried to ignore it, but it grew in intensity as the ducks, geese turkeys, and guinea hens joined in. I knew something was terribly wrong..but what to do?

Finally I decided that since I had made the trip out to the pens a multitude of times in the dark of night it wouldn't be that difficult or different with my current visual impairment. I was right. I followed the path out back with relative ease. The only problem was that I couldn't see what was causing the commotion with the birds.

I opened the gate to the "free range chicken park" and felt my way along the wire fencing toward the back. I heard several branches snap in the woods beyond the pen, but I couldn't see a thing. It was like trying to drive in a blinding white-out snow storm. Everything beyond a few feet was a consumed in a complete fog-like blur.

When I heard another branch snap I knew the intruder was fairly large. I surmised it was a deer snacking on the blackberries that grow wild on bushes in the forest on 2 sides of our property. Since the birds were still in an uproar I thought I should do something to scare the deer away. I bent down and felt around on the ground until I was able to find a few rocks and short twigs which I tossed toward the sound in the woods.

Satisfied that I had frightened the deer away I returned to the house via the same path. However, as I settled back down in front of the t.v. the birds once again became hysterical. Silly birds, I thought, afraid of a ridiculous is that! Unable to ignore the bedlam, which continued to grow in intensity I once again felt my way to the back of the pen.

By now the drops had begun to wear off slightly and I was able to see something brown about 15 feet beyond the boundaries of the "chicken park." Once again I grappled around for things to throw at the deer, which I now decided was a young fawn because it showed no fear of me.

When poor little thing continued to show reluctance to leave, I accompanied my projectiles with a loud "GRRRR Get out of here! Go on..Get!" The fawn stood its ground for quite sometime while I continued to yell and toss bits of rocks and twigs at it. At one point, it moved a bit closer to me so I jumped up and down and waved my arms while I shouted in an attempt to look more menacing . At last it nonchalantly turned and walked unhurriedly deeper into the woods.

Bruce came home about an hour later and I told him the chickens and other birds were driving me nuts by over reacting to a fawn in the woods behind their pen. I asked him to handle it if they started up again.

Within twenty minutes the birds once again sounded a shrill alarm and Bruce went out to take a look. We had decided that maybe the fawn was injured or abandoned since it was so reluctant to move off when I tried to intimidate it.

Within minutes Bruce breathlessly returned to the house and loudly announced "Jodi we have a problem!" As I stood and felt my way blindly toward where he stood panting I asked "What's going on? Is it injured?"

"No" he huffed "But it's a wonder YOU aren't! .... It's NOT a FAWN Magoo it's a big Black BEAR!"

In the words of Quincy Magoo..."Ohhhh Lucy Magoo, you've done it again! "

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Just Like a Man !

Now there are a lot of good things about living in the country. There are also a lot of things that are not so good about living in the country. One thing is the country scents ( ironically, and justly so, the title of my blog.)

Since we live in the country and our property backs up to woods on two sides we have an ongoing problem with skunks who wander onto our ranch. This time of year, the wandering of skunks is actually more like a mass pilgrimage . You see , although skunks are pretty much solitary animals, they always return to the den in which they were born to hole up for the winter. They also birth their young in these dens. It works like this... 5 or 6 skunks enter their communal den in late summer or early autumn, and in the spring 20 or 30 skunks emerge.

At some point back in the annals of time a few pilgrim skunks decided to hole up under where one of our small barns is now located. Needless to say our balmy country evenings more often than not waft noxious perfumes through our open windows.

Since this particular den of skunks has most likely been here since the time when cavemen roamed these hills you'd think that some men would learn to give them a wide berth. Perhaps I should narrow that down a bit and say that I should think one man in particular would learn to give them a wide berth. That man, of course would my husband, Bruce.

For the last week we have noticed an increase in acrid scents mixed in with the usual sweet perfumes of night blooming Jasmine and Nicotina. Now some say that women are smarter than men. I can't say for sure if that is an accurate statement or not, however once I noticed the obvious signs of our winter resident skunks were returning to their den I did my best to avoid crossing their path. The man in this house did not.

Let me give you an example as to why the saying: Women are smarter than men may have some merit.

Late Friday afternoon just as the sun was bidding us adieu I settled into our lawn swing to watch it slip behind the tall oak trees in the forest. I tried to coax Bruce to come and sit with me but being the self-appointed advocate of lawn care, he decided instead to mow the lawn. So off into the sunset he rode on his mower.

Being the perceptive person that I am, I immediately noticed that he had riled at least one skunk during his first orbit around the lawn. Amazingly, it took Bruce about three and a half laps before he finally stopped the mower and walked back toward me.

As he approached I slipped off the lawn swing and told him I was going inside...(and here is where the possible difference in intelligence comes into play.) Bruce looked around for a minute and then said "I think it must be under the dog house in the vegetable garden."

I agreed and suggested we make a fast retreat to the interior of our own house. When Bruce made no sign of moving I said "Are you coming?" When he didn't answer I knew he was going to have to satisfy his curious mind.

"Seriously, I think we need to go in now." I said as Bruce continued to use his nose and eyes to scan the area. When he turned and headed toward the vegetable garden I knew we were in for an interesting evening.

"What's your plan?" I asked with a knowing grin on my face. "I'm just going to see where it's hanging out so we can set a trap out a bit later" he replied. I grabbed my camera.

A few steps later we were both standing in the vegetable garden looking at the old abandoned dog house our ranch dog used when he was a puppy. I wisely stood about 15 feet back from it while Bruce cautiously approached. I did my best to discourage him from getting too close... really I did. Looking back at the whole thing, it's possible that maybe I didn't speak loud enough for him to hear me. But seriously did he really need me to tell him not to lift the dog house to see if a skunk was under it?

The obvious answer is yes, he apparently did need for me to shout "NO! STOP! DON'T LIFT THE DOG HOUSE UP... THERE IS A SKUNK UNDER IT!" because before I knew it (although I stood camera in hand and ready) he muttered something that sounded like "I don't think it's under here" and lifted the dog house.

Are women smarter than men? Well, at least one was on that particular evening.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Things not to say in the presence of a detective

I suppose detectives by the very nature of their profession have to quickly correlate and analyze everything they see and hear. Years of training and self-discipline have taught them that things are not always what they appear to be. That's all well and good when solving a case, but it can be quite disconcerting to an innocent person who doesn't happen to have the best motor skills when it comes to controlling her mind and mouth.

My husband, Bruce, and I recently visited the office of a local attorney who specializes in estate planning. This attorney also just just happens to share office space with a private detective.

Their offices are in an old building that was formerly a gold essay office in our downtown area. When walked into the empty reception area it was like being transported back in time 100 years. The wooden floor planks creaked beneath our feet as we ventured deeper into the somewhat disheveled but completely vacant area.

Looking behind a barred counter that looked like an old bank tellers window we expected to find a receptionist/secretary. Instead we saw a massive oak roll top desk that was cluttered with file folders and long ago abandoned coffee mugs. It looked as though someone had been there as recently as 10 or so years ago, but there were no signs of recent activity.

Behind the desk stood a mammoth sized coal-black antique safe that looked like a prop out of an old western movie. It was at least 7 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Fading gold filigree lettering adorned it's double doors.

Bruce was more interested in our meeting with the attorney so while I checked out the safe, he wandered a bit down the empty corridor that was lined on both sides with a multitude of opened office doors, and called out "Hello?"

In the dead stillness that followed I said "Wow, it would take several sticks of dynamite to blow that safe! Maybe even C-4 ." (Please believe me when I say my only experience with cracking safes is what I've learned from watching t.v.)

As my words echoed down the hallway we heard a quick movement that sounded like someone abruptly siding back a chair on the wooden floor. The sound was followed by short quick steps and suddenly a small heavy set man charged up the dimly lit hallway.

Bruce extended his hand to the man and said "Hi, we are the McDonald's are you Mr. Talbert?" In response the middle-aged baling man ignored Bruce's, outstretched hand and pointed his pen toward me and gruffly said "What's your full name and who's she?"

As Bruce told him the man made hasty notes on a yellow legal sized pad. "unhuh, is that your truck out front?" He asked. When Bruce acknowledged that it was the man pushed his glasses up with one finger, moved to the window and apparently jotted down the make and license number.

"Umm," Bruce said hesitantly "We are here to see Mr. Talbert, is that you?" The man spun around looked at me and said "So what's your interest in our safe?" Before I could answer we heard the flush of a toilet from somewhere in the depths of the old building and a second man hurried down the hall toward us. Ironically the second man looked enough like the first to be his older brother.

As he approached he outstretched his hand and said "Hi you must be the McDonald's, I'm Jimmy Talbert, that paranoid man by the window is my partner Mike Ferrell , my office is down this way."

As Bruce and I followed him down the hallway, I noticed that the paranoid Mr. Ferrell was quick on our heels.

Once we were seated in Mr. Talbert's office, and because I'm apparently a bit dim witted I said "That is a very interesting safe in the reception area, I'll be it has an colorful history." Out of the corner of my eye I saw Mr. Ferrell's head give a quick jerk in my direction as he snapped to attention "I asked a minute ago what your interest was in it." he said taking in every aspect of my features.

Before I could answer Mr Talbert waved him off with the back of his hand and said "I've got this Mike, Please excuse us."

When he'd left the room Mr. Talbert explained that Mike Ferrell was a close friend and private detective sharing his office. He also informed us that the safe in the reception area was apparently of great interest to many unsavory locals who had recently attempted to crack it.

He went on to explain that in the past 7 months the office had been broken into 7 times. "Someone actually took a torch to it." he said "they scorched the floor pretty badly, it's a wonder they didn't burn the whole building down..funny thing is that there hasn't been anything in the safe in over 3 years and the real kicker is that it hasn't been locked in all that time."

He continued "Another person or, maybe the same persons drilled the tumblers out. I guess no one has actually broken in and just pulled on the handle because as I said it hasn't been locked in ages. "

Last Tuesday we came in and found the office door jimmied and the safe door standing wide open. So you can see how everyone that comes into the office falls under Mikes suspicion"
He picked up his pen and continued " I'm sorry for Mikes interrogation, now what can I do for you."

We discussed our business for about an hour and when we had finished we requested copies of some of the legal papers. When Mr. Talbert took the file across the hall we saw an elephant sized antiquated copy machine just inside the doorway. As he attempted to make copies the old machine squeaked, groaned and made numerous other indescribable sounds. It jammed, whined, sputtered, coughed and shook with such violence the floor vibrated.

In a flash Mr. Ferrell was on the scene trying to assist. Meanwhile as Bruce and I waited we began to discuss the last time we visited a probate attorneys office a few years earlier. It had been to settle the estate of a recently deceased relative. The relative had been involved in a particularity difficult marriage to an incredibly controlling and manipulative wife. As Bruce and I talked I said that I thought it was the marriage that killed him and not the illness. I said something like "If I ever see her again I'd like to walk up to her and say : Well YOU are the one who killed him.!"

Now you know it's a funny thing about machines, they always do the wrong thing at the wrong time. I'd raised my voice so Bruce could hear me over the din of the copy machine, but just as the machine shut off the last part of my sentence "Well YOU are the one who killed him." echoed though the silent building.

Trust me when I say that got Mr. Ferrell's attention. I think we explained it all sufficiency, but I'm still a bit suspicious the A-1 Pool Cleaning Service truck that has been parked out in front of the house for the past 2 days. We don't have a pool, and neither to any of our neighbors.