Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I shouldn't be allowed to own fish. I wouldn't even have fish except my mother insisted that I get a tank so that my daughter could experience the soothing floaty action. I clean our tank when you can't see the fish any more. Today, it had again reached the point where I wasn't sure if the fish were alive or dead. I cleaned the tank thoroughly and dumped the fish back inside. (Neither fish are named, a testament to how unattached everyone is to the fish - even the bat that terrorized our household last week got named "Alexander".) Not too long after, I clearly saw them floating at the top of the tank. One would assume that the fish would have died in the putrid sewage they were swimming in previously. Instead, they choose to die when they can actually breathe and see the world. Maybe they were shocked by how my oxygen their gills pumped, or by seeing our cat Rex for the first time. (They don't even know that he's less frightening now that his herpes is under control.)

Now that I've cleaned the tank, I'm considering getting another fish. I've gone to all that trouble - it seems a shame to waste a clean tank. If I did, I would get a gold fish, which I could dump in our pond outside when I tired of it. The last time we did that, Halle actually caught "Black Betty" in the pond, flipped her on the bank, and discovered that fish can't survive out of water. Again, too much oxygen can kill a fish.

At least the fish chose a good time of year to die. They will be excellent fertilizer for a really tiny plant.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Beware of Offering to Help

When people offer help “if I need anything”, I often wonder what “anything” means to them. Tonight, I wondered if that included bat eradication. Fortunately, the flying rodent did not transform into a vampire, which would have been at least equally frightening as the large, furry, pteranodon-like creature I almost stepped on.

Climbing the stairs with both children in tow, I noticed a furry-looking creature the next step up. “Wait a second,” I said to Halle she raised her foot. I put my hand on her stomach, keeping her from ascending. “That looks kind of like a bat.” Hearing the name of its species, the bat removed all doubts by screaming like a fire alarm. I grabbed both children, lifted the gate at the bottom of the stairs off its hinges, and threw it on the floor. The three of us sought refuge in my bedroom. “Wait here,” I told the girls, and grabbed my phone.

Calling a friend, I asked for advice. Sonja suggested covering it with a blanket. I reached for a blanket, cast the net, and watched in horror as a bat wing found the edge and then sidled along. The bat’s screams were thinly muffled by the blanket which I will now wash at least three times. The bat succeeded to fly upward two stories to the skylight, where it was impossible to be trapped. Shooting it was clearly the only option.

My friend’s husband called her. Sonja answered the telephone with the greeting, “Kara has a bat in her house and she’s planning to shoot it.” “That is a poor decision,” he replied. Fortunately, another friend had supplied her son Zach, who is a hunter. I met him at the door with an air rifle.

As I pointed out the pest and explained the situation, I told him I didn’t know how it had entered my house. Halle’s voice from behind my bedroom door came, “It’s Grover’s bat! Grover let it in!” I felt strangely betrayed by her imaginary friend.

Zach shot the bat, but only made it scream again and fly around before it attached itself to the same spot. Changing tactics, Zach was able to trap the bat with a telescoping net, then cover the top with a blanket and release the furry flyer into the outdoors. I paid Zach with cookies.

Halle told us Grover would be very surprised that the bat was gone. I told her to relay to Grover that I did not want a bat in the house again. She called him up. “It’s for you,” she said, handing the phone to Zach. Zach declined talking to Grover, but I think the monster got the message. Let’s hope so. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Vote is for East

This past weekend, the girls and I headed the Great Wolf Lodge on the other side of the state. The lodge houses an indoor water park, maintained at a balmy 80 degrees year round. The water park, in my opinion, has way too many surprises (water shoots, dumps, gurgles, and sprays at different times and places constantly) but I guess some people enjoy that sort of thing. I'm not a big one for surprises.

As soon as we started home, I realized that my plan of reversing the directions I had printed out in order to come home might be a flawed plan. I got hopelessly lost. At one point, I said to Halle (in an empty parking lot), "We're going EAST! I think we're supposed to be going west. I can't believe I did that!" Halle interjected, "I would like to say right now that my vote is for east." It turned out she was right, which must have been nice for her because about ten minutes away from the hotel, she had thrown up all over herself.

We pulled over to get her cleaned up. "Grover threw up, too," Halle told me. Grover is one of Halle's imaginary friends. He has a herd of cows that travel with him, as well as a couple of dinosaur buddies and his cat named Lotion. Fortunately for everyone, imaginary vomit does not smell or create much of a mess.

The whole adventure home (which took four hours instead of two) reminded me of one that I took two years ago with my Dad and sister-in-law Stephanie. Attending my brother's boot camp graduation, we stayed in a hotel with a toilet that sprayed water all over Steph, I threw up in a McDonald's drive-through, and we got so lost that we drove two hours out of our way before realizing our mistake. In addition to this, I was turning left and keeping an eye on some kids who were J-walking to the right of my car. I failed to notice a driver careening toward us, which Stephanie pointed out. Slamming my foot on the gas, we safely reached the turn lane. I stretched my hand over to my dad in the passenger seat. "High five for staying alive," I said. Dad slapped my hand and Stephanie recovered from her heart attack.

At any rate, I think I've decided to buy a GPS. It would give me a few less surprises.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I really didn't think the "check engine soon" light had a, "now" after it, but apparently it does. I had had the light checked out a couple weeks ago, but was told it was an emissions thing and that I was fine to continue driving it as long as there wasn't an environmentalist behind me. So Sunday evening, I planted my girls in their car seats, had a cup of hot tea in the center console and was surprised to find that the check engine light did not come on - because nothing did. The car would not revive, regardless of my excellent pep talk.

I've been giving cars pep talks since I drove my first car, the '66 Chevy Impala, which was roughly the size of a barge. It would often pass out on me, in which I would pop the hood, look at the gigantic engine, and then begin my talk. "Listen, you and I both know that I have no idea what I'm looking at, let alone how to help you. So if you want fixed, you had better get yourself together and get us home where there's someone who can nurse you back to health." It often worked. Today, it did not.

Kindly, the car did not die on my birthday. It waited a full 24 hours after the date in question. Four years ago, my jeep did not have that decency. The morning of this birthday in question, I went to work and then commenced vomiting every 15 minutes. I told my boss (near a toilet) that I needed to leave work and seek medical attention. I drove myself to the hospital (taking a couple of pit stops along the way) and then was given a couple bags of IV fluid. After I was discharged, I went to crank the old girl up, and was met with a wrrrrr-rrrrr cough. It had to be jumped twice before I was able to stumble home. Willie, not being much of a phone person, did not check any of his messages and was surprised to find me in bed when he arrived home. He had brought me chocolates. Since I was not in much of a mood for them, he ate them himself.

So this morning, I learned to jump the car by myself. I watched a you tube video on the subject wherein the instructor said, "This red cable you clip on the positive terminal. This black one can go anywhere." I called my friend Kat, who referred me to her husband, who walked me through the process. I was still unsuccessful, so he and Kat came over this afternoon. It turns out you're supposed to take some plastic covers off the battery terminals. That was not in the you tube video.

The car made it to the shop, so who knows what they'll find wrong with it. They'll probably discover a gremlin.