Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ways to crack yourself up.

Write a book. Get it published. Wait a few days. Then Google yourself...

A new genre! What kind of books do you write, Lynn? Literary fiction? Womens fiction? Chick lit? No, I write shellfish romances. Good old fashioned clam meets clam stories. You know, ones that are set in China? Will the public never tire of them?

Ok, John Lithgow. Now we're talking. And a palooza, perhaps even a quilt-making one. In France. And somehow I have been invited to this fete. Magnifique!

Well there's the alphabetical proximity, I suppose. Or is Google messing with my head? Can it know my deepest, darkest secret, that I was once an official member of the Partridge Family Fan Club? Then it also should know it wasn't Danny who came to me in my dreams!

This will be news to my mother.

By numbers? Oils? Finger paints? On velvet?

Whoa! I have NEVER had a video taken of me in a cheap hot tub. Only top of the line, baby.

And here, at last, is when you know you've reached the end of your narcissistic interlude. Still, loving the randomness of having all the words appear in a single post. Like a found poem. A really, really bad one.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The final chapter.

Sure, it could have ended like this. I’m sure some of you thought it would. But those who’ve been patiently following my raccoon saga will be grateful to know this week it came to an end. Project Exodus (which consisted of loud music, bright lights and ammonia soaked rags) was a smashing success. On the second night, while watching TV in the living room, I thought I saw something scurry across the porch. Maybe an hour later, I heard a noise, flicked on the patio light and caught mom climbing down from the roof with a baby in her teeth. They both looked at me. I looked at them. We understood one another. It was time. I flicked off the light and let her get back to the arduous task of transporting and corralling four distressed cubs.

Warning: If you thought I was a nutcase up to this point, it’s about to get worse. You may want to scroll to the bottom paragraph.

So, after eight long weeks of cohabitation what was my reaction to all of this? After seeing the raccoon with her baby, I walked back to the sofa and burst into tears. You should have seen the look on my kid’s face. “What’s wrong?” he said. “It’s all okay. It worked. She’s leaving. WTF?” Maybe he didn’t actually say “WTF” but he might as well have. And who could blame him? I’ve since tried to figure out what was going on there and here’s what I’ve come up with. (And sorry, PMS was ruled out…)

A) Gargantuan relief. That she had finally gone, that this hadn’t ended in some kind of tragedy, that she was doing precisely what I’d been told she would do, taking her little ones off to someplace safe. Things had gone according to plan. When does that ever happen?

B) Gratitude. That these cubs had such a great mother, that things had worked out, that my house hadn’t been destroyed as many warned it would be, and that I’d been able to share this experience, which was a rare and amazing encounter with nature. I had done something from the heart that ran contrary to common sense. (Certainly not the first time, nor will it be the last) And it hadn’t backfired.

C) Ok, maybe I was a little sad that they were vacating after all this time. I’d grown accustomed to their coos each time I opened my dresser drawer for a clean pair of socks. And just maybe I was projecting my own kid’s leaving for college onto this whole experience. (Ya think?)

There’s a final act to all this. That night, one of the babies was left behind. All night long, it roamed around the house and cried for its mother. I was afraid it might attract a fox or coyotes. That morning at 5:15, the dog started going crazy. The baby’s cries got louder. I ran to the bedroom window in time to see the mother carting the last of her brood off into the tall grass across the street. My guess was that she had three babies to keep safe that night, and didn’t dare leave them to go back for the fourth. Not until daylight.

And that’s the last I’ve heard of them. (Thank goodness. I know, I know.)

PS. That morning I went out to buy screen and hardware cloth and sealed up the vent.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Four little figments of my imagination.

When you hear a sound in your walls for eight weeks, but see nothing, you start to think you’re a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

I haven’t talked much about my raccoon roommates lately. I just figured I’d let them do their thing until they got big enough to move on (as promised by at least two local wildlife groups.) But lately, they’ve become a little more nocturnal, waking me around one, and again around five AM, moving through the walls for at least an hour before they settle down. And it took a while but the dog has finally caught on, going nuts every time she hears scratching in the walls. It actually took her seeing the mother raccoon one night on the patio for her to make the connection.

So after nearly two months of cohabitation, because they’ve shown no signs of leaving on their own, today I have begun Project Exodus.

Step one was to evaluate the situation. I’d been warned how destructive raccoons can be. A little after noon today, I ventured into raccoon territory (aka attic and cubby hole) and discovered the damage isn’t bad at all. It seems they’ve designated one small area as their litter box. There are some chewed boxes and torn up insulation, but no damage at all in the attic, aside from the vent the mother comes in and out of.

I knew the mother would be out in the middle of the day, and hoped the babies would be with her.  And when I say babies, I was thinking one or two at most, which seemed all that there could possibly be based on the sounds they made. Obviously, not the case. I snapped this photo of the well-behaved brood in their little nook beside my bedroom dresser. I was thrilled to finally see them, and how beautiful and healthy they look. And I was also glad to see how big they are, which makes me feel a little less guilty about what I’m about to do.

Apparently, there are three ways to try to convince a raccoon that your attic is not the Raccoon Ramada. One. Illuminate the space. For me this is easy. I have light fixtures in both areas where they’ve been living and just flicked them on thise evening as soon as it got dark. Two. Ammonia soaked rags. Raccoons are very clean and the smell of ammonia drives them crazy. They think it’s urine. Three. Blast the radio. Raccoons don’t like human voices. To help that along, I chose a country music station, though I think that will probably torture me more than them.

As I write this late at night, I hear the radio upstairs and I feel kind of bad, like I’m scaring children, terrorizing a family, turning them out into the cold cruel world. Then again, they haven’t left yet. Stay tuned…

Sunday, June 6, 2010

More of What We Cook on Cape Cod...

This Friday, The Cape Codder came out with a great article on me and my new novel, Summer Shift, and the reporter, Laurie Higgins, was nice enough to mention this blog and some recent postings, one of which were recipes from this ancient (1916) Cape Cod cookbook I found, entitled What We Cook on Cape Cod by Amy Littlefield Handy. For those interested, I thought I’d post a few more recipes.

First off, check out the recipe titles, like "Codfish Chops" and "Oyster Shortcake." And I love the simplicity of ingredients. Butter, butter and more butter. Another thing notable, especially for the seafood recipes, is how plentiful and inexpensive everything must’ve been back then. They’d think nothing of making soup out of lobster or serving up oysters on toast. But what I love most of all is the comfort food aspect, the butter-eggs-and-cream crackery goodness, just like great-grandma would have made (had she been from Cape Cod and not Austria, hell bent on sauerkraut and bratwurst….oh well.)