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June 04, 2010

Not In Front Of The Children

from Jacqueline 

Last weekend was a good gardening weekend. Following the storms that have blown across northern California throughout winter and spring, my small garden was looking pretty ravaged, so it was time to set-to and do some yard work.  The sun had brought out the neighborhood, so I was enjoying the Sunday afternoon, looking up from my weeding and pruning every so often to pass the time of day with another neighbor ambling past.  A couple came along – I guess they were in their sixties, maybe seventies - and though I said,”Hello, lovely afternoon, isn’t it?”  the woman offered no greeting, but looked at me, pointed to a place on the other side of the road in front of my neighbor’s house, and said, “Have you seen THAT?”

            I stood up, rubbed my aching back and said, “What?”

            “That!”

            I was going to say, “What?” again, but that would have sent us off into the realms of comedic theater.  I peered over my white picket fence and tried to follow the trajectory of her pointing finger. It was a deceased squirrel. Unlike most of the deceased rodents in the area, he was not roadkill, but had fallen from the telephone wires above the road, an unfortunate Philippe Petit wannabe, his end surprisingly bloodless.

         “Oh dear …”I said.

     “You need to call the humane society,” she instructed.

         “Bit late for that,” I replied.

         “Well, you need to clear it up before children see it.”

         Before children see it?

          “Um, I think the kids round here have seen worse than that, the way their mothers drive down this road on the way to the school – nothing in their way stands a chance!” I said.  “But don’t worry, I’ll deal with the little fellow.”

    And they went on their way, with me wondering about children who are so protected, they cannot be allowed to see a dead squirrel.  You see, the idea of keeping death from a child seems strange to me – though of course, we’re not talking about the family dog having just met an untimely end; that’s another matter.  But I was raised in the country, so there was no hiding children – especially those whose parents worked on the farms, as mine did – from the facts of life and death.  And we were all fairly well balanced kids – no ax-murderers as a result of seeing a dead cat at the side of the road. In fact, the ritual of animal burial was strong in our neck of the woods.  If that squirrel had fallen to his death on our street, my brother and I would have made sure he was laid to rest with full honors, in a shoebox, with a salute followed by wlldflowers strewn upon his grave.

            Much has been written about a detachment from the natural environment  experienced by younger generations – most kids only know meat as something that comes in a plastic-wrapped carton, or a freezer pack, and their idea of the outdoors is a park, or a hike along a pre-constructed trail. And that’s if you can tear them away from their electronic media.  Fortunately, more schools are putting in vegetable gardens, so the kids are at least finding out how things grow, and with it, I hope, that growing food is not always as easy as it looks.  But amid all that, I look back on my childhood and I give thanks that things had not moved on too much in the place where I was raised.

            My parents grew all our vegetables, and not from a deep intention to have us eat organically, it was just cheaper for them as opposed to buying veg in the shops, though they had to at times.  We kept chickens, and when their egg-laying days were over, those chickens found their way into the oven.  I remember watching my dad pluck and prepare a chicken for roasting.  I was fascinated by the whole process and it didn’t turn me off my dinner at all – I was a country kid, and we knew that chickens did not have nuggets.  When food was short, my father would go out into the fields and come back with a rabbit, although I know it was often passed off with the comment, “What do you mean, you don’t like the taste – it’s chicken; you love chicken!”

            When I was a small girl, on Saturdays I would walk into town with my mother to do the shopping – we didn’t have a car and my dad was at work.  She would be pushing the pram with my baby brother cocooned inside, and I would sit either on top or walk alongside her – I’d hold onto the side of the pram handle, and she would place her hand on mine as we walked.  We made our way from the grocery store, to the bakers, to the butchers, then back around to the library (needless to say, the place I loved best, along with the stationers).  And I remember the butcher’s shop vividly.  Those were the days when most butchers bought their meat on the hoof, so to speak.  The animal was slaughtered at the back of the shop, and then “dressed” for sale. The half-carcasses of beef and pork hung in the window, and the shopper would choose a cut to suit the pocket-book.  They made their own sausages and pies, and you’d also see rabbit, duck and chicken hanging in the shop window.  But the thing that drew my attention was the head of a bull – complete with a ring through his nose – that was in pride of place on the wall.  Clearly he’d been a magnificent beast in his day, and he looked as if he’d lived a good life.  But those eyes, oh, those eyes.  If Mr. Ratcliffe hadn’t hung the paper bags from one of the bull’s horns, that would have been one scary dead animal.

 In many ways death has become so sanitized in recent years.  There’s a detachment from the event of death, whether animal or human, and certainly in many cases it is not a place for children.  But I was ten when my beloved grandfather died.  I wasn’t supposed to be in the room with his wife, sons and daughter, and the older grandchildren, but I was.  I remember standing beside his bed knowing that death was drawing near, and just watching his final moments. I remember noticing that, as he passed, every line in his face seemed to vanish, the years of physical and emotional pain - relics of the Great War - fell away.  And as if he was looking at something beautiful, he smiled.  I held that memory of his passing, for it made death seem more part of life itself.

 So, now that this story has rambled all over the place – and that’s what blogs are good for, a bit of rambling – I want you to know that I cleared the furry little Philippe Petit from the place where he’d met his demise, and as gently as I could, I placed him in an old shoe box. Unfortunately, had I buried him in the garden, some critter would have come along and exhumed him in pretty short order, so I wrapped him in a plastic bag and consigned him to the trash can.  Later I heard the little girl across the road say to her mother, “Oh no, someone’s taken that dead squirrel.”  Now there’s a kid to watch. 

Squirrel
 

PS:  Sorry about the formatting - this is my first go at blogging with Lipstick Chronicles - I'll get the hang of it ... I think ....

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Comments

Welcome to TLC, Jacqueline! Your books are a favorite of my book group!

I live in Western PA, and any kid who hasn't seen roadkill by the time they are 6 months old hasn't left the house.

Not sure why, but we rarely see dead squirrels. Personally, I hate squirrels and firmly believe they are plotting to overthrow us humans. Also, given half a chance, they will bite your face off. But maybe that's just me.

Happy June Friday everyone! School is almost out - yay!

Jackie, the first time I was moved to write? I was 8 or 10 and had been exploring the neighbor's dairy farm and came across a gigantic heap of dead calves--all rotting in the sun, buzzing with flies, stinking something awful. I immediately felt horrified, terrified and . . . guilty. (I knew I wasn't supposed to be poking around back there.) So I raced home and hid between the twin beds in my room and scrawled myself a panicky note about the experience. No clue what became of the note, but I clearly remember using writing as a mode of therapy. And as a channel for my interest in death, I suppose. Great blog!

We're delighted to have you here!

Rambling is good, Jacqueline. It will be fun to read country kid testimonials today.

I grew up in south Louisiana, so I've seen all sorts of roadkill. There is no adventure quite like driving on an interstate highway with an 85mph speed limit during nutria mating season. You really have to keep your wits polished.

My brothers and I used to bury our pet turtles (which never lived very long) in the back yard, and then exhume them for fun. Good times.

I'm trying to remember being traumatized by seeing a dead squirrel. Nope. NO trauma here.

Welcome Jackie.

How wonderful to be on the same blog with you again, dear Jackie!

I remember once seeing my sister's cat dead by the side of the road as I rode the schoolbus home, about a half mile from our house. I was about twelve years old, and no one else was home.

I took a blanket and went back to retrieve it, which took about half an hour and made my arms ache as I held the poor thing about a foot away from my body the entire walk back home. I buried it next to a little pond/fountain by the side of the house and surrounded the grave with abalone shells, the same way all the old monks are buried around the mission in Carmel, and felt very saintly about it all.

Ten minutes later, I was sitting in our kitchen listening to the radio, when the ELO song "I'm Alive" came on. And my sister's cat walked through the swinging door. Apparently, I'd buried someone else's orange tabby. Or maybe that nine lives thing is actually true....

Jacqueline! So happy you are among us.

Great post. It's my experience that PETS and DEATH are two topics guaranteed to pry my children from their electronic devices.

And Nancy, that Silence of the Calves story of yours. Goodness. No wonder you write crime fiction.

Rabbits, skunks, squirrels, deer, possums,raccoons,groundhogs, and other assorted wildlife, the only time I'm bothered by them lying dead on the highway is when they lay stinking and rotting within my personal smell zone. I live next door to "the trash fairy" and he will soon get a shovel and remove the offending carcass.

Living in a semi-rural setting you soon get used to seeing all these and more lying dead on the road. They are food for the carrion eaters. Our local murder of crows have banquets quite often. The turkey buzzards like to compete, but seem like members of a gang when they have claimed a corpse on the road. They taunt the drivers of vehicles approaching by seeming to say "you're not going to get me to move" in a turkey buzzard form of the game of chicken. Usually they will fly or hop away just in time, but last week I actually saw turkey buzzard roadkill next to unidentified remains along the highway. I don't know whether it counts as a win or a loss in the game of chicken.

Welcome, do you prefer Jacqueline or Jackie? I have loved Maisie Dobbs from the beginning. Hope you have as much fun here as the rest of us.

Hi, Jackie! Your story and these others are giving me fits of giggles. Yes, I'm ten.

When I was young, I used to collect small dead animals--mice, moles, the occasional bird--and give them funerals. I even created a cemetery for them. Apparently I was a weird child.

There had been a heavy rain and one of the baby kittens had apparently wandered away and drowned in a ditch.(we lived in the country too) We came home to find the mother trying to "revive" the kitten. I was in HS and had dealt with losing pets and had watched my mother kill chickens but I remember to this day how affected I was by watching that momma cat try to save her baby. My father gently took the kitten and later buried it in the woods. I wasn't traumatized though - just touched.

I had lost all my grandparents by the time I was 12 and as a small child grew up in the era where family members were often "laid out" in the house not the funeral parlor. I guess because I'd never been sheltered from people who were terminally ill or who had died it was somewhat easier for me to go to wakes or funerals than for some of my peers. (my mother was often called upon to help care for terminally ill famiy members and I would have to go with her part of the time)

On a more exciting,fun note I learned about "Maisie" when Orlagh Cassidy mentioned on twitter that she had just recorded another one in the series. I love the books and the character. I am saving the last 2 I downloaded until I have time to really concentrate on listening to them. I listen to Orlagh and your words come to life so well I can "see" the story in my mind.
Welcome to TLC!

Country kids most definitely have a different viewpoint, although freaking out over a dead squirrel? That woman is just bonkers. And she has clearly never had children, or she would know differently.

Cornelia, love the story about the cat!

Back to the country kids--we had a donkey adopt us at the farm. The creature simply would not leave, and hid from his owner, the farmer next door (who is a gentle guy, the donkey was just recalcitrant), and only responded to my husband. So he stayed in the pasture with the two pregnant mares, and drunk the water that the mares' owner left, etc. When the mares were put into the paddock, close to their delivery time, the donkey was rarely seen, although food and water was still left for Don K Otie, as we had named him. Then we stopped seeing ole Otie, and couldn't figure out if he again leaped the fence, trying to get close again to the loves of his life (the mares), or what.

Fast forward two months. The kid who lives across the road, who is now fifteen and weed whacks up by our house for pocket money, also roams our property, apparently, because he came across Otie's skeleton, picked clean by the vultures. He had all his friends down to take a look--no trauma there!

By the way, this kid was saving money last year to buy a pair of boots he had in layaway. That's only one of the differences between a country kid who lives in a trailer, and one who not only has a closetful of shoes, but also an iPod or a Blackberry. It's eye-opening, hanging around in a poor county in Kentucky.

Great post. As the father of two little ones, roadkill is a city occurrence and a part of growing up. Aside from the fact that the girls already know that daddy does not swerve the car to save birds and squirrels, they are fine with road kill. They do know that the deer wins in the car vs. deer battle. Bambi may be little and cute, but West County deer are a 300 lb., horned car destroyers. West County deer also know that car horns are just a curiosity. Loud rock and roll on the other hand is deerspeak for get away from the road.

They also know that we eat plants and that plants grow in the ground. They have been to the State Fair and have seen the lambs, sheep, rabbits, fowl, pigs and steers and know that we eat those too.

My girls never knew their grandfathers. It is hard sometimes when their friends talk about their grandfathers. But, they go to the cemetery and put rocks on the grave stones. They also know that cousin James runs the cemetery where Grandpa is buried. One day princess two will figure out that she shares initials with daddy's friend buried near Grandpa, just like her sister knows she is named for her grandfathers.

I have found that "to protect the children..." is just code for "I think you should not do that."

I grew up in farming country and we all seemed to accept death quite matter-of-factly. I don't feel so matter-of-fact anymore. Of course, I am closer to it myself, and that might be the difference. Great post.

I skin roadkill. And boil the carcass to preserve the bones.

In my younger life as a sheltered suburban kid, the very thought would have sent me screaming. But somehow I discovered a love of nature and the outdoors while in college, and wound up pursuing advanced training in vertebrate biology. When my fellow grad students and I drove to conferences, we would stop for roadkill and collect any specimens that still had intact skulls. Of course, a favorite driving game was to be the first to identify said roadkill to species, using the proper Latin names.

I agree that we are too often sheltered from death. I remember reading "And Ladies of the Clulb" for the first time, and being deeply moved when I realized just how completely the cycle of life and death was a community event, with appropriate rituals for celebration and mourning. I can't be sure, of course, but I suspect that absorbing that cycle from an early age made for less fearful lives, at least on some level.

Welcome, Jackie!

My younger sister Liz has always done what she wanted--no matter what wanyone told her. At about age--ten, which would have made me, what 14? 15? I was babysitting, and she decided to go ride her pony after dusk. Strictly forbidden, but she sneaked.

It was summer.

My mother and father were out, and I was also watching my two other younger siblings. So when Liz headed out to the barn, I didn't worry.

Some time later, she came back all--tearstained and frazzled and sweaty and disheveled..."Penny got hit by a car," she sobbed.

As it turned out, our wacky Irish setter--who only had three legs because she would not be broken of chasing cars--had accompanied Liz on her forbidden ride. As Liz was riding across a country road, Penny had run out in front of them, yapping, to prevent her and Cadet from getting hit by a car. And Penny got hit instead. And died.

We trudged to the scene of the accident with a big blanket, and wrapped up Penny, and carried her-somehow, gosh I don't remember, to the field behind the barn, and buried her.

What I remember saying to Liz: We don't want Mom and Boo (my stepfather) to see Penny like this--they'll be upset.

Oh, Hank, you were such a caring person even back then. Why couldn't you have influenced Kerry, that's what I want to know? She's busily boiling road kill!

I attended a Lutheran elementary school. For whatever reason (tone deaf elderly, I think), the school choir was asked to sing at someone's funeral. From third grade through eighth grade, I attended at least one funeral a week. Death was not a mystery. We asked out parents, teachers, pastors any questions we wanted and got fairly honest answers. Even the boy who always asked the most inappropriate questions (Can I see an autopsy?) got an answer. The process was a comfort to me; a way to say goodbye.

I was 11 when I saw my father cry for the first time when my grandfather died. The second time was 4 years ago when his baby brother died. That was two of the hardest things I have ever had to endure. And my father has had heart issues/procedures/trouble for 37 years.

My mother's father owned a butcher shop. He would let me, my brother and any of my cousins watch as they slaughtered the cows. He would not let us watch them do the pigs as they bled too much. When I was older, he said that pigs tend to be too messy. It looked a lot more violent than it was; he was afraid that we would get sick and mess up his clean floor. ;-)

My father's mother had chickens in their backyard, in the middle of town. A pesky grandfather clause allowed her to keep her chickens until she moved or decided she was tired of it. I hated those damn things. They would peck holes in my Keds (and I only got one pair a summer. If they got a hole in them, too bad) and were just dirty. My grandmother would make us watch as she wrung their necks and got them ready for the pot of hot water to get all of the pin feathers. But they always tasted pretty good! Grandma & Grandpa had a huge (about 1/4 acre) garden. They also had apple, pear, apricot, peach trees, grape arbors, blackberry bushes and rhubarb. She made the best applesauce & rhubarb pies!

I really miss those days!

We see more dead possums than squirrels, although my friend's son totaled his car (he wasn't hurt...knocked the car off the frame) to avoid hitting a ground squirrel! Catherine knew about these things when she was seven. These days kids get so much violence on TV and XBox that a dead animal means little more than blood...at least to some of them. (My little soapbox). Anyway...great post, and welcome to the Tarts...I love Maisie and her adventures...and the formatting looks fine to me :o)

My parents loved animals.
My father used to hand feed squirrels on our back porch rail and the squirrels were mighty glad to have a friend. One day a squirrel bit my father's finger but being stoic he said nothing and still welcomed the critters.
Nothing too traumatic occurred during my childhood.
After a garter snake skittered across my path I learned that city girls should not scream.
I did scream when I was chased by a bull at sunset in a corral where I walked from farm to farm. Wishing that there was a rodeo clown in sight I froze just as the farmer told me and walked slowly out of harm's way.
In a macabre sort of way death and funerals were a part of my life. Older relatives left us and we were given a chance to mourn and feel real emotions. I think our young generation feels great emotion also if they are allowed to be near older relatives.
Thank you for sharing Jacqueline and welcome.

Growing up in Dallas as the city grew, we went from having open fields to our north to being surrounded by city, which meant that all sorts of critters were around at first, then gradually driven out by construction or driven over by cars . . . . I am sad if confronted at close range by roadkill--life is vibrant and precious, no matter the creature. But, sad is not trauma.
Trauma was when I was walking one beautiful summer morning in Austin, watching two baby squirrels chasing each other and playing, and some jerk couldn't be bothered to slow his car on the broad, empty roadway (he had plenty of time to do so). Watching the consequences of his selfish carelessness haunted me for some time.
My family made sure we knew that the fish/fowl/meat on our table was available to be raised or caught in nature and was caught/slaughtered commercially if it wasn't brought by one of my uncles. We were encouraged to respect life and trust our preferences, but vegetarians in our family were by conviction, not from fear of eating fellow creatures.

Forgot to say: we had our share of funerals for turtles, fish, etc., but the adults tried too hard to shield us from my dad's tragic early death, and we weren't told that the day we were left with a depressed old babysitter while the rest of the family got unusually dressed up and left was the day of Daddy's funeral. So, for most of our childhood, my brother, sister and I made up lots of stories about how Daddy died (by virtue of childish imagination, we reckoned he was killed in a destroyer in the South Pacific, about ten years before he died . . . not realizing we wouldn't have been born if that was the case).
Once I was old enough to figure out the truth, I was sad that we weren't allowed to say goodbye to Daddy and mourn him in our own ways.

I am just remembering some stories told by one of the writers who attended the Seascape retreat last fall. She was the daughter of a police officer, and he used to adopt animals rescued from drug dealers' homes after drug raids. It was fascinating! Not just the expected pit bulls and vicious dogs, but snapping turtles, geese, goats, parrots. Anything menacing or noisy. They lived in a city, too.

Talk about material, huh?

Jackie....welcome....so glad to see you here and loved your ramble.

I'm Irish so death and funerals are all part of the culture. When I was in second grade one of my classmates fell down 75 city steps and died. The nuns thought it was a good idea for us to walk the half mile to to her home and back and "pay our respects"------whatever that was. When we got to her tiny home we walked up (very carefully)about 20 steps on the terrace and entered the living room where her tiny body was "laid out" on the couch wearing her First Holy Communion dress and veil.
Just growing up in the city.

My dear Our J, does Sybille know you're blogging again? I'm shooting off an e-mail to her immediately. I'm one who doesn't believe children should be sheltered from the reality and inevitability of death. It's part of this life we live. Besides, they see the fake reality every day on TV, cartoons included.

The only time that I have been 'protected from the trauma' was when my cat Missy disappeared. And my dad found her crushed in a racoon trap that a farmer across the road had illegally placed in our back yard at the creek. He took his rifle, the trap with Missy, and went to visit the farmer. Advised him to stay the h*** away from our property or else since that was his baby-girls cat.

Mom and dad buried her, and then told me.

Other than that, as a country girl, I am used to seeing about anything and everything. Saw a dead cow out in the woods while riding my horse. So many poor Bambi & Faleen's that I just cringe a little now. But that is why the stray cat is now an indoor only cat, and why the dog is always leashed.

Wow, what a lot of comments - and wonderful stories into the bargain. When I was first learning to drive, I was with my father in the car and a squirrel ran out in front of us - I braked and swerved to avoid the critter (I really didn't want to feel that crunch under the wheels). Oh, you should have heard the telling off that issued from my father's mouth! According to my dad, in that moment I could have caused the deaths of a young family in a car coming in the other direction, I could have deprived a family of a mother, a mother of her children; I could have killed us both, and I could have wrecked the car (and money doesn't grow on trees, you know) - and all for the life of a squirrel. He was right, of course, but I still don't like that crunch under the wheels.
Thank you all for the welcome - it's great being here! And it's OK to call me Jackie, or "Our J" as Cornelia christened me, once upon a time.

My dad is a funeral director, and I was born into a family where everyone was already old when I got there, so I was the opposite of shielded from death...although I didn't have a lot of experience with roadkill.

I was four when my grandfather died and my newly widowed grandmother, my mother and I were at my grandmother's house with the pastor of the church. He was talking about how my grandfather was going to go to Heaven and such.

I looked up from sorting marbles (as my mother tells it) and said, "Pfft. No he's not." Silence as my mother frantically tried to think about what I might have learned in my one day of Vacation Bible School that would influence this train of thought. The pastor tried again, "Of course he is, sweetie, he was a good, kind man..."

Apparently I put my hand on his arm and said, "His soul mught go to Heaven, but my dad's going to put him in the ground."

Whoops. That should be "might go..." Grar.

My friend's daughter was upset when I mentioned that there had been raccoon footprints by the frog puddle near my house -- and suggested that perhaps if I planted berries, the raccoons would eat them instead of frogs. It was sweet, if impractical.

I guess I'd like to see roadkill moved out of sight, but then some people would never see any wildlife at all. Some years ago I saw a book for identifying critters by their outlines on the pavement. Sick, but funny.

Being a techno-twit, it was a miracle that I managed to post my words on the blog, but now I'm having trouble leaving a comment! Anyway, in case this gets nowhere (per the last try), I will keep it short and snappy - am blown away by so many comment and great stories; thank you!!. Methinks there could be an an anthology in the making, "Roadkill: A Daring Book For Writers." Or whatever ....

When I was a child one of our relatives decided to buy a farm. I suppose they could have been categorized as gentlemen farmers.
One Sunday the family piled into their new Studebaker automobile and trekked out to the farm.
They had a cow and a few chickens but it did not seem like a working farm. It was more of a destination to get out of the city.
I was forced or it seemed like I was forced to try milking a cow. We gathered a few eggs and the chickens scared the wits out of me. The only good memory of that day was taking home some fresh made butter.
Later, I visited a real working farm where I experienced real emotions and hard work. My friends were pragmatic and I was welcomed into their lives for vacations. Heart and soul and dedication to the farm life taught me so much and I treasure those days.

s

Welcome Jacqueline!

We have a huge pigeon problem here. We had a company that specializes in humane removal come and put the nets, spikes, and other deterrents on our house. Put it seems that the silly birds are so dumb that they just run into the nets and get stuck. We now have a bigger problem with dead birds all over our house. My children don't think anything of it except that it's sad. I didn't think to hide it from them. It seemed silly with my upbringing as well. (Texas girl here)

I was driving home after work one day and a cat darted out in front of me. There was traffic everywhere and I couldn't avoid hitting it. I was devastated. I'd never hit an animal before and now someone's pet was dead and it was my fault. I got home and was greeted by my boys, ages three and five. I mentioned that I'd hit a kitty with my car, still feeling awful about it, and they immediately piped up with, "Can we go see it?" So, no, I don't think kids would be undully harmed by the death of a squirrel. And no, I didn't take the bloodthirsty little demons out to see the dead kitty.

I was driving my '86 full size Blazer and a robin was sitting in the street. I knew that as I got closer, he would just fly away. Well, imagine my surprise when he didn't and I ran right over him. I had to stop the car and pull myself together. I walked back to look for some stupid reason. I noticed his chest feathers were very light in color & had a lot of white mixed in. Even the black feathers were very light. I know that as a robin gets older, his colors fade. So I like to think he was committing "suicide by car". It bothered me for days after.

Love your blog, wonderful depiction of childhood filled with good, real memories. So much for the electronic age.

As a child, my experience with death was when my family's pets died, and we rarely were without a dog, cat or both. We'd put the animals in boxes when we could, and we'd get our friends to participate with us in the funerals.

I wasn't exposed to people deaths though. My maternal grandfather died when I was five, and my parents thought I was too young to attend the viewing and funeral. When my paternal grandfather died, my parents thought I should stay in school while they and my older sisters traveled to NC to the funeral. I don't remember going to my paternal grandmother's funeral, which isn't to say I didn't. So my first remembered funeral was my maternal grandmother's when I was in high school. My dad died when I was in my late 20's. At the cemetery I saw that my mom's name was already on the tombstone, though she didn't die till much later. I wondered how I would feel seeing my name etched into a tombstone waiting to have the death date added.

Welcome to TLC, Jackie!

Welcome to TLC -- I look forward to adding you to my list.

When my oldest was about 3 or 4, she would try to save all the earth worms that came out after a rain. Try explaining to a preschooler that you couldn't help but run over some of them, especially when they were in the street or driveway.

My youngest is squeamish about dead things. She found a dead hummingbird last Saturday at Grandpa's cabin and didn't really freak out, but was sad because it was so small and delicate. Her two uncles (who have boys) rolled their eyes, but the uncle with a daughter took care of it. (All three are my brothers, but I'm disowning the two snarky ones for the time being)

Quick Hijack!!! I'm going to see SNC at the Minnesota Zoo on Sunday. It's an outdoor venue, but I ordered tickets right away (thx TLC) and got us a box. I'm so excited about it and it's a surprise for hubby and both daughters.

DebraSue, you will LOVE the concert! Be sure to stop in the lobby before the show to buy CDs. After the show, the CD table will be too mobbed.

Speaking of a lot of possums on the road, it's just because they are so dumb. We once watched one of them, almost across the road, look up to see our car coming, and instead of scampering off to the very near side, the durn fool crossed the entire road again. If we weren't so careful it would most definitely have become a road rug.

Patty Smiley!! Hello and many kisses...xoxo

OH, remember the Loudon Wainwright song? Sing with me..

Jackie, I love Maisie Dobbs -- her attention to detail and signals from the body is something I now find myself thinking about. Thanks also for listing the books in order on your website. I'm only on the second (on CD -- good reader!) and intend to hear and read them all!
DebbraSue, I agree that it's perfectly reasonable to be sad about a dead hummingbird. They are such beautiful creatures. Have fun at the concert! I was a volunteer docent at the MN zoo when it was first opened.
Hank, which song?

My cousin Carl is a good old country boy with quite a twang. In the '80s he was driving his ratty van to Texas. He had long hair & a beard but looked more like a wild man than a hippie. He picked up a hitchhiker along the way. After a few hours the guy looked around the van & saw a smoker by the back doors & asked Carl what he cooked in it.
Carl said he watched for fresh roadkill. Skinned it, got the smoker going & cracked the back door windows.
"Why hell boy, by the time I stop for the night, supper's ready!"
Needless to say, the guy decided to find another ride at the next rest stop! (See? Insanity does run in my family! LOL)

My cousin's son's nickname in the police department is "Possum" because he gave some jerky made from a freshly road-killed deer to the officer training him as a rookie. Waste not, want not . . .

Hank, were you talking about the "Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road" song? My brother loved that song and used to sing it to his daughter . . . wonder if she still remembers that? . . ."stinkin' to HIGH heaven" -- hmm, I'm sure he wouldn't really smell it from heaven . . .

hi jackie, patty pointed this blog out to me, just as the withdrawal symptoMs were getting unbearable!
great to read you again! take care, s.

I grew up in downtown Phoenix - lots of cars and occasionaly someone's pet would be in the wrong place at the wrong time...still, we always had pets, even chickens and rabbits in my city yard (obviously zoning had not been enforced). I even had a small cemetary containing the carcasses of canaries, parakeets, hamsters, dogs, cats and the like. The most horrible memory I have of dead critters was when the City of Phoenix decided to poison pigeons...they fell from the sky...or flopped on the ground...messy and bad PR for the City. So, there are life and death lessons that city kids learn, too, aside from knowing when it is a good time to run for your life at the playground.

As I grow older, I am a bit saddened by roadkill - especially on HWY 37 during nesting season...I have a bit of a hard time with oiled birds, too. I can say that I am truly sorry to see that a squirrel blows it on the high wire act - such brave little acrobats! Awe, here I am getting warm and fuzzy and going anthropomorphic on you - and I'm a wildlife biologist...I should know better!

Thanks for your blog!

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