I See You, Fur Moms

Yea, they’re not going to college…probably, and they haven’t learned to drive… yet. But those fur babies are constantly on our minds, and clogging up our hearts, dryer filter and bathroom drains with their hair.

They are united by dinner time and sunshine so for one brief moment, they all got to gather for a Mother’s Day picture.

Happy Mother’s Day.

“An Embarrassing Situation”

Somehow I get the most magical fortunes in my fortune cookies. This one was definitely a call to action: “ Your help will be needed in an embarrassing situation.” I was on the case and texted all the likely suspects immediately. The friend whose butt I’ve seen …a lot, mostly in small bathroom stalls assured me that all was well.

There was a report that a home sugaring incident had gone badly. Some lady bits got stuck to an inner thigh. I was accused of not being helpful in that case. I could only say that I had not seen the Bat Signal for glued labium and reminded the person of the “accidentally gluing themselves to the kitchen linoleum home waxing” incident that I was at least on the approach for. You’ve got to keep that wax microwaved. Some people should just pay for services.

Dear Fortune Cookie, I made the effort. I will help my people; but unfortunately, it usually takes me a minute to fully understand what has gone wrong, I’m absolutely someone who reacts loudly to things (y’all my voice CARRIES), and I’m also that asshole who will bring up the “Hey, you remember that time you peed your pants while on a date?” type of reminder. I’m at least working on that one. Since the fortune did not come with a time frame, everyone should just proceed with caution.

The other cookie said “A happy romance for you shortly.”

I assume this means whatever nonsense the GET. UP. committee brings to my life in bed, and I will continue to not be physically touched by a non medical human ever again.

GET. UP.

Ideal Cat Math

The mathematically ideal number of cats is four. The next ideal is ten, but that is far too many felines for my space to sustain. In both cases, calculating percentages of the population is easy.

For example, I can, with great certainty, narrow it down to the most likely 25% of the population that would sample my asiago bagel. Bagels are carbs. I am fat; therefore bagels are only a once in a while singular breakfast treat. I do not purchase a package of bagels. I made the mistake of leaving my one beautiful bagel in its crinkly bakery bag on the spot on the counter where Olivia takes or samples things. She had a separate spot for shredding my mail.

Unfortunately, some cat math is more complicated. I can guesstimate which 50% of the clowder left me a gooey dingleberry stripe across the carpet one Monday morning. Birdie as an expert scooter is the most likely candidate, but Sookie has an equally fluffy bum.

A more pleasant calculation is the approval rating of the new fluffy donut bed that I purchased. Cats rarely like anything that you purposefully buy for them, so it is a tiny miracle that 75% of them have approved the purchase. (Olivia is not interested!) In fact, 50% of the cats are so into the bed, that I had to buy a second one to prevent a turf war.

Neither Sookie nor Birdie, the saltiest, sassiest 50% of the glaring, were willing to back down if they were in possession of the fluffy bed. There was a lot of intense staring from about a foot away and at least one altercation. The easiest way to solve for X was to purchase a second equally fluffy donut bed.

Little Adventures: Sandhill Cranes

Coming in for the night.

The danger of saying, “Wouldn’t it be fun if …” to me is that occasionally I will act on the idea which is what happened over breakfast on a visit to MomBert’s. We were most likely looking at an issue of Birds & Blooms when MomBert suggested that it would be fun to see a large group of migrating Sandhill Cranes. I knew that the biggest group gathered in Nebraska which was not a reasonable trip for us. However within a 5 hour drive, groups of cranes stopped over on their way to Florida at the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area in Indiana. The DNR’s website posted yearly counts of the cranes which tended to peak in the thousands at mid to late November.

We planned for the weekend of November 12-13. As we got closer to the date, the crane count did not look promising. The site indicated that flooded fields had caused the cranes to spread out, impacting the count. An additional article suggested that warming temperatures caused the birds “to procrastinate” in their migration. Thanks, climate change. Regardless, we had a hotel room, I had a personal day scheduled, and the adventure was on.

We started off in sunlight (sounds like the opening line to a weird novel), but entered an alternate universe of gloom, rain, and eventually sleet about two hours from Jasper-Pulaski. The goal was to get to the viewing area an hour before sunset when the cranes returned to the field for the night, drive almost another hour to the closest hotel I could book, and rinse repeat the process in reverse at sunrise. The drive was tedious highways and eventually confusing country roads that made us question the wisdom of the GPS.

Crossing a time zone yards away from our destination made the car panic, and made us have a conversation about what sunset timing might mean. The time space continuum means little in the middle of a field.

The middle of a field also means the lack of a “formal” bathroom. When I researched the area, information had indicated there were porta johns in the parking lot. However we were in the parking lot with nary a pottie in sight. I headed for the trees, got paranoid, and doubled back to basically mark the front tire of my car. IT’S MY CAR NOW! (For future adventurers, the porta johns are beside the tower in the parking lot with handicapped spaces. It’s only a short walk on a path through the trees.)

We could hear the cranes and were starting to see small groupings flying our way, so we did our best to bundle up and hustle to the viewing tower. In anticipation of the birds being far away, I had borrowed a camera with a long lense from the photo teacher at school. I also had my regular camera, binoculars, and my phone. It was a bit much, but this was our opportunity. We thought we were prepared.

When we left that morning, we were aware that it was November and that it might be chilly. However we had not fully realized the level of “chilly” we’d be facing. It was cold and windy on the ground, but standing on the viewing platform about a story up intensified everything immediately. The was nothing to block the wind other than turning our backs to it which meant turning our backs to the birds. While I had practiced with the larger camera and manipulating the settings, I lost feeling in my fingers quickly and had to hope for the best.

You’ll want to turn on the sound for the videos in order to hear the cranes calling as they come in, but you’ll also be able to hear the fierce wind and the ice ticking off of everything. You may also hear the resident “bird guy.” I’ve encountered “bird people” at home. They terribly friendly and want to tell you all that they know and have experienced. It is at once useful and overbearing. He told tales of seeing the field full of cranes up to the platform some years, and explained their schedule to the people around him. I tried to listen over the wind as I took photos and attempted to get feeling back into my fingers.

I love the symmetry of their landing.

You can also hear MomBert whisper, “Look way back there” as small flock after flock came in from where they had foraged throughout the day. The small groups that we had seen coming in while in the parking lot, became more consistent as sunset closed in. We were physically frozen and maybe a little miserable, but emotionally in awe of the birds.

The birds kept coming in in the increasing levels of snow and darkness. By the time we got back to the car, we had to clear all the windows. (Also despite, a myriad of open spaces, someone had parked right beside us and most likely stomped in my pee puddle. They are mine now as well.)

The next morning we got up way too early to make the 45 minute drive back to the viewing tower before sunrise. Once we got away from the town and hotel, it was pitch black except for an ominous pink glow on the clouds ahead of us. The glow turned out to be some manner of factory or greenhouse whose lights were reflecting on the low cloud cover. Every driver I passed flashed their lights at me which must be a rural Indiana code for something because I swear I was not driving at them with my brights on.

We crossed the time zone to confuse my car one more time and then hit the parking lot. Having learned from yesterday’s frozen adventure, we suited up with extra layers by pulling our flannel pjs over our other pants. Work with what you’ve got. In the dim light of dawn, we could hear the cranes rallying.

This photo says, “TOO EARLY! TOO COLD!” Roughly 6:28 a.m. depending on which time zone my phone noted.

We had the viewing platform to ourselves that morning and could see the large group of cranes in the field. The wind was brutal, but it was not spitting sleet at us and there looked like the possibility of sunlight breaking through.

I had assumed that the cranes would start breaking off from the group to start their days, or that there would be some tangible warning before they departed. However one moment I was messing with the camera, and in the next moment they collectively spread their wings in a wall of slivery gray feathers and took off together.

This is my panicked photo of that moment.

We gasped. It was an astounding coordinated movement. The entire flock began circling the field and edging over the viewing tower area as they worked towards new locations for the day. I was desperately trying to take video with one hand and shoot photos with another. It was probably best for my self esteem that the first people we had seen that morning emerged heading towards the tower just as the flock was heading out. They missed my poor juggling act.

In the space of 30 minutes, we were done and ready to search for a hot breakfast and roads back home. MomBert lamented the lack of a gift shop in the area for at least a crane magnet or sticker, and I reminded her that I had peed in a parking lot so we probably just needed to accept the experience.

Note the sweet pjs over pants.