Author: Underdaddy

I am a well-intentioned father of four girls. I assume the identity of Underdaddy to carry out my mission of publicizing my mistakes and funny adventures so that others may smile. Engineer by day, I understand that if no one ever discusses failures then no progress will ever be made. In that light, I represent a lot of potential progress.

Birthday Goat Summer

School’s out for the summer. Yay.

Everyone passed their classes so everyone has leveled up. Donna Threeto graduated kindergarten. I guess a lot has happened since I last updated everyone.

We had a birthday party for Jane several weeks ago. She is ten now. We have gotten out of the habit of holding birthday parties for anyone but usually feel guilty enough to slap something together at the last minute. It isn’t that we don’t want to celebrate but rather we are poor planners. Who wants to juggle the coordination of locations, spending five times what you expected, and trying to have a guest list that invites everyone who would be offended if they were but is pared down enough to fit everyone into one space. Maybe we are just bad people or unmotivated. Who knows. Janes birthday was going to be different.

She felt a special significance towards reaching double digits and was emphatic about having a party. Her choice of party was having all her friends out to the farm to meet her animal friends. This would be a friends party and I made sure the invitations mentioned “Horses, Goats, Food, and Fun”. We folded the invites and wrote each friend’s name on the outside and packed them into her backpack.

Here is where I will offer a tip for other last minute parents. If you write out an invitation on the computer, save a copy. Or print an extra. Or write down the time that you invited everyone. I didn’t do any of this. I printed an exact number and closed the Word document without saving. About a day later I couldn’t remember the exact time of the party.

As the party date got closer the weather forecast became more ominous. Jane looked at me on the Wednesday before that weekend, with tears in her eyes, afraid we would cancel. She had been dealing with that transition from childhood to tween where the illusions of life begin to fade and mix with reality. She needed to know that a special fun day was still possible. I promised that rain or shine we would have the party. And we did. The forecast the night before showed rain until the start of the party and then it was predicted that the weather would clear. If we could deal with a few minutes of rain then the party might be a success.

Party2

The day of the party was cloudy and had been rainy right up to an hour before party time. We had three tailgating tents, a charcoal grill, and several camping chairs. Her friends all arrived with mud boots or flip flops. For the first thirty minutes everything went smoothly. Then the rain started. It got more intense and the wind started to drive it sideways into the safety of the tents. Lightning started to crash and everyone was pretty well soaked by the time we acknowledged time-of-death and moved the festivities indoors.

Party1

I was a little disappointed because I bought several foam swords and hoped to have an epic battle. We had one at the house later so that was cool. The only downside of the foam swords is that now Judy Cornbread is deathly afraid of anyone holding anything that looks like a sword. She is non-confrontational and watching us beat each other was traumatizing. Plus the kids have probably beaten her when I wasn’t looking.

What I went on the trip to California.

We had the traditional Mother’s Day. Good lunch. Good dinner. Supermom didnt get any time to sit alone and read which I found out is what she actually wanted.

Then things turned a little darker last weekend. I warn you about some graphic pictures to follow. Read on at your own risk.

So my mother lives near some bona-fide white trash pieces of shit who own some large dogs who roam the neighborhood and team with other strays to terrorize the countryside. They started a fight with Chester Sparkles last year and he fought them off but was hurt pretty bad.

Party4

This is Chester Sparkles. He is a happy boy. 

They have returned to kill a few chickens here and there. Last week they returned and got into the goat pen. Two baby goats are dead and two adults are seriously injured.

Poor_baby

Bite marks on the neck only. They had one intention. 

One of the goats is named Eli and is a favorite of the girls. He got goat polio as a kid and was nursed back to health by constant attention from my mother and the girls. He is extremely friendly and definitely a main character on the farm. The dogs did some damage to his front right leg and his hind leg. Another goat, named June, is questionable to recover because the dogs tore a muscle in her rear leg.  I’m usually a big fan of dogs but this rogue pack has two Rottweilers and a Pit Bull and no oversight from their owners. At the end of the day, dogs are pack predators and, if left in the wild, will act accordingly.

A couple of days after the attack, Eli was still not eating and was just laying around. Mamaw suggested having the girls come visit to make him feel better. The minute the girls got there he began eating and moved around more than he had the day before. He wanted to feel the safety of his friends. They lifted his spirits. She captured several heartwarming pictures.

Eli_Visit

Is there a sweeter picture? You are crying aren’t you? You should be.

Everyone feels better after a visit from their friends.

Eli_Note

As far as the dogs. I hope they die of parvo and heart worms. Slowly. One upside to living in the country in the south is that neighbors are all armed and have no trouble protecting each other. Offering hide out and snipe the offenders was as common a response on Facebook as the tearful emoji.  I expect it won’t take too long to relocate the problem animals. As far as the crappy owners, that problem is not likely to resolve itself. Unless their meth lab explodes or the moldy cement blocks under their rusty El Camino crack just as one of them slides under the frame to cut off the muffler for the platinum catalyst because he read on the internet that it was worth “big bucks”. I’m sure if he drank less than a case of Natural Light by noon each day then he would be able to feed his dogs instead of letting them off the chain to go scavenge. Fucking hicks.

I’m venting and assuming. I don’t really know them that well.

Take a breath. Count to ten. Okay… Moving on.

Lady Bug came to visit me at work the other day. She enjoyed some delicious pizza and then proceeded to draw a little over 105 separate rabbits. One of my co-workers drew a recognizable rabbit and then Lady Bug attempted to recreate it.

Rabbits

She actually has some good scale and artist skills. She is turning four in a couple of weeks so I’m impressed.

Jane is trying to convince me that we need a snake as a pet. Petsmart has a pink cornsnake that she wants. I think we need a new house or a small petting zoo before we add any animals.

If your life is going a little, birthday goat summer, this post is for you. You’re welcome. Here is a funny picture of a dog photobombing an Easter photo session.

Ruining_It

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Thanks For Mom

In a movie every character is important. Every line has meaning towards developing a character or moving the story forward. If one character doesn’t play the part correctly then the story will fall apart. Next weekend is Mother’s Day.

Mothers are the main characters in most life stories.

Since I was little I knew different aspects of my mother. Everyone always let me know how smart she was in school. I could see myself her being beautiful and compassionate. The one thing I have never really known is her backstory or the difficulties she faced before I was born. I’ve pressed her to tell me histories and fill in the blanks but she has always been hesitant to share. Last week she sent me an email with a personal story from her past. I found it interesting, emotional, and reflective. She made me think about how our stories are woven with other people. How endings are beginnings in disguise. And of course, I wanted to share it.

Here is what she wrote:

For every damn thing I went through in my youth and as a young adult, I’m talking stressful or traumatic events, I just had to suck it up. Truthfully, I never realized there was an option. That’s why I have a difficult time relating to the younger generation who feel the need to cuddle and drink hot chocolate when things don’t go their way. I don’t think cuddling and hot cocoa are necessarily bad things. As a matter of fact, had I been able to cuddle and drink cocoa I’m sure my behavior would have been much better. That’s all I have to say about that.

                There are things that have been erased from my memory. I’m sure that is a self-preservation quality of my brain. Other things I have absolute clarity about. Moments I can replay in my head in slow motion; smell scents, see sights, and experience emotions. These moments are often turning points. One in particular is an event that put me on a path to hope. You may not have realized it had you been around then, it took some time for hope to grow into something more. This is the event I wish to share today.

                A series of events led up to this moment. There were incidences that made it impossible for me to continue to live in the circumstances I found myself in. I knew something had to change, I could no longer cope. I was smart enough to know if I simply left home, I would be retrieved and returned. I was a minor, the law would be on the side of the adults. So, I turned myself in to DCS (Department of Children Services). I was picked up shortly after I made my call by two men in suits who transported me to a juvenile facility. I don’t remember the name of it, but I recall some of the residents. I remember the facility’s van taking me to school, quite an embarrassing circumstance for a 15 year old. I stayed in this facility while my situation was being investigated. I waited for the court date that would determine my fate.

                I can’t remember how long it took for the day to arrive. Memory block. I do recall several people testifying including my case worker who recommended I not be sent home. When my turn came I was, thankfully, escorted to judge’s chambers to testify in private. I didn’t have to speak in front of dissenting adults. The judge started by commending me for my good grades and positive teacher recommendations. We talked a minute about plans for the future, etc. Then he asked the question “What do you think will happen if I send you home?”

                The.Entire.World.Stopped.Turning.

                I have no idea how my face appeared or what my heart looked like as it lay there on the floor. I do remember turning my head to look out the window. It seemed to turn very, very slowly. The view was not great, merely a red brick wall. Looking back now it seems symbolic.

                I couldn’t find my words. My mind was trying to focus but all I could think about was how sure I was I would take my own life before I went back. The only time I was seriously, dangerously, considering suicide. I’ve never told anyone about my thoughts. I can’t explain it but for that moment I was absolutely sure of the answer. However, the only words I could squeeze out were “I don’t know.” The conversation basically ended there.

                I was returned to the courtroom to hear my fate along with everyone else involved. Judge WBH saved my life that day. In truth, he and my brother and sister-in-law saved my life. You see, my brother had offered me a home and the judge saw fit to accept his offer on my behalf. The rest of the day was a blur but I was thankful not to have to return to the unnamed facility. Some of those residents were certifiable!

                I’m sorry to say, even though this was a life altering day, it didn’t change the bad behavior I had indulged in for some time. I’ve never asked my brother if, not having told him this story, he regrets bringing me into his home. It cost him something. At times, it cost him lots. I was too young to appreciate him. There is no way to repay someone for saving your life. You pay it forward and hope that is enough.

                There have been a series of wonderful people in my life. People willing to help with no consideration for the cost to themselves. I shall tell their stories one day. There would be no other stories to tell had my slow motion panic gone unnoticed by a judge who cared and who had an alternative. The one day I didn’t have the ability to suck it up, I didn’t have to.

 

All I could think as I teared up at the thought of the whole story was this… It is hard to thank someone for saving you. For being a link in your safety chain. There is usually a thread of guilt or shame woven into the situation. Nothing you say seems to be enough. That is okay. Love is an investment and it doesn’t always pay back right away.

On Easter weekend we went with my mother to my uncle’s house for our annual hunting of the eggs. My cousins and their children were there. Together, with my wrecking crew, there was a yard full of laughter and fun. We played whiffle ball and hunted eggs that were stuffed exclusively with loose change. We sat around telling funny stories and relating to each other’s parenting woes. As always, it was a beautiful time with people we love. Now I know the story could have been completely different.

So, to who it may concern, thank you for my mother.

Oh and Happy Mother’s Day!

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Wander Over Yonder

There is something about life and the steady march forward that is, at times, depressing. I hadn’t been able to put my finger on it for the past few years but I’ve felt it. The feeling that each step forward requires leaving something behind. Things that define me. Little intangible things that become faded memories. My hairline recedes while my waistline expands. It is hard to remind yourself that the past doesn’t exist and the traditions you left aren’t lingering just beyond view. They have moved on as well.

I have a few friends who have been a part of my story and life is doing its best to spread us far and wide. Our kids don’t know each other and given our histories, that seems criminal. I have some other friends that, honestly, I don’t know all of their kids’ names. I try to commit them to memory whenever I see them scroll by on Facebook. It is difficult at best. Until I say them out loud a few times, in person, I probably won’t remember. Nostalgia and a longing to keep connected wrestles with an impossible schedule. I can’t seem to carve out time to clean my garage to change the hard-to-reach light bulb in my stairwell. How can I expect to keep up friendships?

A couple of years ago I took a trip to California to be best man in my best friend’s wedding. It was a great trip and I met a lot of great people. Since that trip, my friend’s life has changed and his little girl is getting older. We tell everyone that we are brothers from another mother and my kids know him as an uncle that lives across the country.

One night I was texting with my friend and lamenting to my wife that I never got the chance to go hang out anymore. She was obviously bored with hearing about it and told me I could go visit. I quickly searched for tickets and lo-and-behold there were cheap ones. Like really cheap. I booked a trip leaving on a Thursday and returning the following Monday so I would have three unimpeded days of “hanging out”. Neither of us really considered the logistics but I was very excited to have a chance to see my friend and his young family.

I also learned that when you tell family that you are going on a weekend trip across the country by yourself, they have one of two reactions. 1) Is everything okay? You know… martially? And 2) Are you looking for a new job?

  • Yes… yes.
  • No

I just want to go do hoodrat stuff with my friends. Is that too much to ask? (A YouTube video reference)

The weekend that I selected was for the exact purpose that our calendar was absolutely clear. Nothing going on. Within one week of leaving the schedule started to fill. Severe storms threatened with tornados and flooding. Jane had a horse riding event to go to. Prima had her first overnight birthday party. Jungle Papaw was coming to visit. My sister from Florida was coming to visit. Plus Supermom does not deal with me leaving in a particularly pleasant manner.

I flew away with a storm brewing at home but I was still excited. The flight out was long. I started in Memphis. Flew to Tampa to change planes and fly to San Jose.

Cali1

An alarm sounded and a cap came whizzing by on a Segway. 

I watched security transfer 10 Million dollars out of the belly of our plane. Bag after bag of cash came down the conveyor. I expected a shoot-out and explosions but it didn’t happen.

Cali2

I managed to see all of the oceans of America in one day. The flight from Tampa was awesome. I sat next to a mother with a six month old baby who liked to breastfeed and fart every thirty minutes. When he wasn’t eating, he was drooling on my arm and kicking his legs while trying to make sounds. Cute kid but it made for a rough five hours.

I finally arrived in California and started the trip with a delicious In-And-Out double double. With fries. It was late so I went to bed. I had accommodations in the most comfortable bed I have enjoyed in a while. I didn’t even mind the Anna and Elsa pillows although I did feel guilty kicking Ms. K out of her room. The next day we went to Stanford to see the campus. We went to San Francisco and had an amazing sandwich. Went to The Ranch and played golf in the hills over-looking San Jose.

Cali4

I lost about sixteen golf balls and got into some stinging nettle plants. That night we went to a craft beer brew house and ate burritos from a taco truck. I got to meet several really cool dads. Shout out to my new friend “Alejandro” and fellow member of the JMSC. (Stay strong) The next day we took a family trip down to Monterrey and looked at the ocean. It was beautiful but the beach was not a useful beach. Cold water, coarse sand, pieces of seaweed, and cold breeze off the ocean.

Cali5

Later that afternoon I called Supermom to see how things were going on the home-front. She had just left a birthday party and was sitting at a traffic light when I heard a smashing sound and she said, “What the f&$%?!”

I could hear a wavering male voice in the background saying, “Don’t worry, don’t worry, I have insurance.”

Supermom said, “I’ll have to call you back. Someone just hit me.”

She hung up the phone and left me with a lot of questions. In about thirty seconds she called back in tears. “He ran away! I told him we needed a police report and he jumped in his truck and left! What an asshole!” I could hear people walking up and asking her if she was okay and offering their witness testimony of what happened. The man was driving a 2006 Toyota Tacoma, wearing a red hat, clean shaved white male in his mid-twenties, drunk, and a terrible person on the inside. If you see him, slap him.

The policeman arrived and according to procedure had to check Supermom’s information. We did not put the new insurance cards into the glovebox so she almost got a ticket. Luckily, the officer had a heart that was connected to a brain so he followed her to the house to see the new insurance card. A ticket for being the victim of a hit-and-run would have been icing on the cake.

Things got better the next day and we Facetimed and I managed to capture a screenshot of my wife wearing Harry Potter glasses. She said that if I planned on any physical contact for the next month then I probably should keep it to myself. What fun is that? (I do plan on physical contact so I will not be sharing.)

I got to see the inside of a Trader Joes so that was cool. The last evening in California we had a really great cookout. We tossed around a football and kicked a soccer ball. We ate steaks and corn on the cob while listening to 90’s era music on a blue tooth speaker. It was a good time and a good end to the weekend. I felt updated on my friend’s life and a little better about the speed of my own. I think adding a few memories here and there help to keep connected.

Flight home was uneventful. Snow on the Sierras. Turbulence near Houston. Supermom and Lady Bug met me at the airport. Everyone was happy to see me but the dog. Judy Cornbread was beyond excited, she was ecstatic. She was circling and making this strange sobbing sound. I thought she might need sedatives. Dogs are ridiculous.

So that’s my recent adventure. I’m tired from jet-lag, missing my family, and drinking a few too many beers. I know I need to post a little more frequently. I haven’t been in the writing mood. Thanks for sticking around to read this stuff. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

A Gift

I often get the question, “Do your kids ever read your blogs?”

Which I answer, “No.”

However, I know that one day they will. That is the whole point. To create a record of all of our craziness and random life events that they can look back on and laugh. That is also why I try to create nicknames and spread the love on embarrassing stories. I hope the stories will sneak past their teenage years. Past the unforgiving eyes of bitter tweens who may use the information for harm. I also hope that they are strong enough to ignore lesser mortals and their insults.

Even outside of this blog, I know my kids will share embarrassing truths with their friends and will face a situation where their delicate secrets get exposed. It happens. Friendships change and relationships end. Things you share in confidence don’t always remain that way. Write that down.

If I have learned something from writing my life stories for other people to read, it is this… Everyone has a similar life experience with someone else. In other words, if something has happened to you then that same something has probably happened to someone else. I can’t tell you how many of my stories that I thought were unique had a followup from a reader who said, “ME TOO!”

As adults we don’t share. We try to maintain decorum and civility. We try to act like we have things figured out. That life is going smoothly according to plan. It never is. Life doesn’t conform to plans. I try to keep the transparency pretty high for my kids. I figure that if I am going to be a mediocre parent then the least I can do is not lie to them.

We had a talk the other night about one of the kids and a funny poop accident. I could tell they were a little embarrassed so I let them in on a secret.

UD: You don’t have to be embarrassed about potty accidents.

Kid: I don’t?

UD: No. Don’t take that as an excuse to start crapping your pants but accidents happen.

Kid: Have they ever happened to you?

UD: Uhhh. Well… Sure. They happen to everybody. If you live long enough I guarantee that you will ruin at least one pair of perfectly good underwear.

Kid: *laughs* Tell me about it happening to you!

I sat for a moment frozen in fear. I have had no hesitation sharing their stories but I realized I didn’t want to tell them my own. What kind of role model is that? Some of their harshest stories are about poop-gone-wrong so I searched my soul and offered up a couple of tales.

UD: I can tell you that there were two times in my life when a fart lied to me.

Kids: *laughs hysterically*

I then shared the following accounts…

The first one that I can remember was during bath time with my cousin. I couldn’t have been more than three. I remember my cousin making bubbles in the bathtub using his mysterious internal gas powers.  I also remember my mother walking into the bathroom and spotting a suspicious looking floating object and having a mild “freak-out”. How to get this turd from tub to toilet was an interesting problem. The solution to this quandary was scooping handfuls of water out of the tub and into the air towards the toilet. Imagine trying to pick up a boat by scooping the water around the boat. Exactly like that but with a turd. I suppose the approach worked because I don’t remember anything after that except being blamed for the problem in the first place. That whole memory is fuzzy.

I also remember an incident from kindergarten. I was probably five. This one was not so much of an accident as much as it was a straight-up pants-shitting. It was nap time and I was drifting in and out of consciousness when suddenly I realized something wasn’t right. My body had bypassed all decision making processes and while I was dreaming, it shit in my pants. Adrenaline rushed into my veins and flooded my mind with one overwhelming feeling… Oh shit. Literally. I raised my hand and requested a trip to the restroom. I was told to wait a few minutes and we would go as a class. Fantastic. I didn’t have that kind of time but what else could I do? I waited. Play it off. Keep a poker face.

Fifty hours later (ten minutes) it was time for class potty break. Kindergarten is the worst kind of place to go to the bathroom. It is like an insane asylum. Other kids would peek through the cracks in the stall and try to hold a conversation. Not the best scenario for trying to perform damage control on what is left of your wardrobe. I won’t elaborate details but rest assured the logistics of the kindergarten bathroom were not suitable for me to discreetly correct the problem. I spent the rest of the day self-aware of my personal space and tried to minimize all movements. It was traumatizing. Like a kernel of popcorn in your teeth or a small rock between your toes when you are wearing boots, the feeling is unique and unmistakable. Somehow, I made it through the day and the ride home without drawing the attention of any of my soulless sociopathic five-year-old peer group. I rushed to the bathroom to try and re-handle the problem on my home turf. I recalled the process my mother used to clean my baby-sister’s underwear whenever she had an accident; wash them out in the toilet. Think through the steps. No mistakes. I knew that the water needed to be moving to wash the debris from the soiled cotton. No problem. I had seen it done several times before. Go time.

This is one of those memories that are burned extra bright.

I deftly pulled the handled to unleash the torrent of water and held the underwear against the raging stream. I remember thinking, “This is going to work!” The water promptly snatched the underwear out of my hand and sucked them down the toilet. I stood staring at the gurgling whirlpool with wet hands and wide eyes. Right on queue my mother, walking down the hall, asks, “What are you doing in there?”

Panic.

“Nothing…”

Poor planning. I didn’t have any fresh fruit-of-the-looms. I should have gotten some before attempting triage. Idiot! Cut me some slack. I was five. From there I remember going commando and acting surprised at my amazing disappearing underwear.

Luckily that is the last incident I remember as a young child. The next closest call was at a church Christmas dinner. We went to a Methodist church and there was food which meant it was a Wednesday. Santa was a surprise guest and everyone lined up to sit in his lap. I had just eaten an after dinner peppermint. The semi-chemy kind that had been sitting in the glass bowl in the lobby since Easter. I wasn’t aware that a sudden intake of sugar is sometimes a strong stimulant. Instant gut bomb. I didn’t want to leave the Santa line but I broke out in cold sweats and had to admit defeat. Thanks to all that is holy, I didn’t shit in Santa’s lap. That would’ve been a disaster. The little helper elf photographer would have captured the moment for eternity. For all that has gone wrong in my life, that moment landed in my favor. What is church for if not for small miracles, right?

So there you go. To my future kids. Here are a few tales of personal shame that you can enjoy. You’re welcome. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

The Danger Beyond

Before we get started I wanted to share evidence of laziness in the food industry. My last post lamented over a misplaced noodle in my Velveeta shells. This time there were fancy shell noodles in my poverty-comfort elbow macaroni.

Kraft_Shell_Previous

The first encounter. 

Kraft_Shell

I expect poor behavior from the elbows but I thought the shells knew better…

Now back to our regularly scheduled program. Think of a cold wind in your face. A Pacific Ocean breeze that chills your nose as you stand on a wooden dock overlooking fishing trawlers leaving the bay. Slowly disappearing into the fog of the morning. Got it? Good.

I’ve heard a story about an oil spill in Alaska that was devastating to wildlife. The part of the story that I remember centered on rescued seals that became the mascots for the environmental impacts. Concerned citizens rallied around the seals and cleaned their fur of oil and nursed them back to health. Television crews came from miles away to watch their triumphant return to the wild. As the handlers released the seals, the crowd cheered while watching them swim back to their place in the wild. A place that is somewhere in the middle of the food chain because within moments the precious seals were devoured by a group of orcas. A grim reminder of the brutality of nature.

I myself had a seal-orca moment this week.

It is a poorly kept secret that our house is a sanctuary for strange animals. Last fall we fostered a baby squirrel that had lost his mother to a cat and had nothing to show for it but a broken leg and was missing part of his tail. We bought small bottles, puppy formula, and specialty squirrel nipples online. I didn’t know you could buy squirrel nipples but we had purchased some wallaby nipples the year before and we happened to remember our specialty nipple supplier. What a wonder of modern technology – internet nipples! We bottle fed that little dude from a tiny baby to a young squirrel. He had a small yellow t-shirt with a dump truck on it from the little boy who first rescued him. We named him Phillip.

Phillip slept in his yellow shirt all the time. He loved to eat walnuts while sitting on a shoulder. He never once bit anyone although I can’t say he didn’t pee on the dog. My wife would let Phillip out to play and for some reason he would chase me down to sit on my shoulder. The only problem was Phillip’s claws. If you didn’t wear long sleeves he would leave scratches all up and down your arm.

Over the last few months it has been apparent that Phillip was ready to explore all things that the squirrel world had to offer. Like hot lady squirrels for example. We had to let him out into the wild and we had only been waiting because he reached maturity in the middle of winter and we knew he would die without a home or food storage. The weather turned nice so we thought we would just leave the door open and see what transpired.

Fast forward fifteen minutes. I was working in the yard that day and he was sitting on my shoulder watching me. He would run down my arm and sniff the things I was holding and then run back up to my shoulder to watch some more. Jane was looking at something under a tree and Phillip ran over to look with her. I got a quick video of him exploring before he ran away. He scampered from one side of the yard to the other getting further away each time until I looked and he was gone. He squeezed under the back fence. I figured he was exploring a little and would be back in a minute. Or an hour.

Then I started to realize the weight of my indifference. Two neighborhood children (in separate yards) had their pellet rifles out and were shooting tin cans. Somewhere in the canopy of the trees a hawk let out a cry and took flight. A fluffy grey cat stalked along the back fence. Dogs barked wildly two houses down. I looked over our fence and Phillip was nowhere to be found. A rickety shed was across the creek behind our house and I could only imagine that it had rat poison spread liberally inside to keep mice out of the packed up dishes and old clothes that used to fit well but now are too small but the owner is convinced that ‘this is the year’ that they shed fifty pounds and squeeze a freshly narrowed ass into those size fours. Best of luck with that. Those dreamers had probably surrounded the boxes with rodent death. If that didn’t get poor Phillip then I was sure that any of the other hundred hazards would mete out his demise.

If he ran up to a person in a friendly way they would probably be scared shitless and call animal control. He would walk right into that big metal cage expecting a Walnut and a back scratching. Next thing he knows, they would lop off his head for a rabies test and he would become a statistic on the negative column.

I felt deep down that I had screwed up. Phillip had become part of our family despite our best effort to keep him apart. He was too loving and full of character. I worried for three days over that damn squirrel. I felt deep down that he was probably dead. Thinking I had turned him out to an unsuspecting death and that all my efforts had been wasted in the form of a delicious snack for a lucky predator just didn’t sit well. I was much more upset than I thought I would be. Every trip by the back window was a little slower as I looked for signs of his return. Nothing.

‘He is dead and it is my fault,’ I told myself.

Boat_1

The next day we leave to go on a boat trip on the Mississippi River. An hour before setting sail and losing cell phone signal I received a call from Mamaw. “The squirrel is back,” she said. My heart jumped for joy over a common (yet non-native) tree rat. “How is he?”

She paused, “humble.”

Phillip had some wounds. He got bitten by a dog and scraped up pretty good on his hind end and tail but he had survived. He had found his way back to our porch and was hiding out in a birdhouse that we have been letting him use as his nest for the last couple of months. When we got home from the boat he was so happy to see us. He ran up on my shoulder and nuzzled my ear. Then he jumped to Supermom and curled up in her shirt. No longer did he want to run and explore. Only to be with people who give him walnuts and protection.

The good news is that he is a non-native squirrel so he can qualify as a pet. If I had to guess, Phillip is a city squirrel from downtown Detroit. He has been through a real ordeal with the downturn in the auto industry and all…

If you have ever surprised yourself with concern over something you didn’t like you really liked, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.