Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Grandma Kevorkian
My mother has long had the unpleasant, but often necessary task of disposing of sick, dying or dead animals. Wild animals, sick animals, stray animals, along with the chipmunks, moles, toads, and other tiny creatures that fall into the pool and end up in the skimmer baskets like so much flotsam and jetsam, as well as a host of beloved pets at the end of their long and happy lives.

A brief review of just some of Mom's interaction with the animal world recalls a terribly sick squirrel that had to be drowned to put it out of its misery, a bird with an irrevocably broken wing and leg, which she dispatched with a quick snap of the neck, and loading the various dogs and cats gently into the back of the car for that last trip to the vet. Over the years, for her ability to act as a kindly and efficient Grim Reaper, Mom has ultimately earned the nickname - Grandma Kevorkian.

Yesterday, she nearly succeeded in adding another notch on her Grim Reaper sickle.

I was sitting in the den (where I am now as a matter of fact), checking mail and blogs. It was early morning, but pouring rain and very dark. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, over by the garden wall, I saw a VERY large bushy tail sweep over the edge of the roofline and up into the overhang of the roof of the poolroom. If it was a squirrel it was the largest one I have ever seen. I could have been convinced it was a fox's tail - it was that large.

So, I mention it to Mom, and she said "Yeah - he's enormous. There's a whole family of them up there, and I've been trying to get them out. I thought I got rid of them all last year, but apparently, one of them returned this spring, and now there's a nest up there."

"Mom", I said warily, "when you say 'Got rid of them all', you didn't?"....

"No!" I used the Havahart live trap and then we took them out to the cottage or out behind the school and released them into the woods.

"Well, you better get it out and set it again", I said.

So, the trap was set with fresh almonds and peanut butter, and when I sat down later in the morning to check my mail, I heard a furious squirrel growling and banging around in the cage out on the deck. Not a happy camper by any means, but also not the Squirrelzilla we were after either.

Mom and I had plans to head up to the Prime Outlet Stores in Grove City for some retail therapy later in the afternoon since the weather was so bad, so we decided to load the squirrel into the car with us and set him loose near Moraine State Park on the way. We also noticed that the poor thing was blind in one eye. It was completely opaque, but the other eye seemed clear, and there was no doubt that the squirrel could see, or rather, glare, just fine. There was a look of pure hatred coming from One Eyed Jack for being cooped up in that cage.

Driving along 422 West, Mom decides on a likely spot along the side of the road adjacent to the State Park and a wooded area and we pull over. She gets the trap out of the back and sets it along the edge of the grass, and starts to open it. I have visions of the squirrel bolting into traffic and ending up as another notch in Mom's belt, which, while adding to her mystique, would not be good for the squirrel, so I suggest that she move farther off the road into the woods. She opens the trap at one end. One Eyed Jack just backs into the back of the cage. She tips the trap forward to encourage him to get out, but instead of darting for freedom, One Eyed Jack decides to back even further into the rear of the cage. As Mom tips the cage even farther forward, and ultimately lifts it up and tries to dump the squirrel out, the poor thing starts to cling desperately to the back of the cage, as if he's hanging on to the end of a rising drawbridge. Now Mom starts to shake the cage at this point, and the squirrel looks more and more like Sid the Sloth from the movie "Ice Age" clinging for his life on the back of the wooly mammoth, Manfred.

Dad and I are beginning to crack up watching Mom try to shake the damn squirrel out of the cage, when the squirrel finally realizes what's happening, and shoots out the front of the cage as if he were shot out of small cannon, and Mom recoils from the blast.

Just as Mom is putting the cage back in the trunk, and Dad and I are gaining our composure, Dad glances in the rear view window, goes "Uh, Oh", and before I could whip my head around, I hear a Darth Vader like voice coming across a loud speaker: "Are you folks OK?" I turn around to see a State Police car pulled up behind us.

Mom trots happily to the driver's side of the door - inches away from cars whizzing by her at 65 mph, and leans in to speak with the Trooper. Dad and I suddenly have visions of the tables being turned and Mom getting clipped by a passing car and being flung into traffic like so much road kill. After a few nerve wracking moments and near misses, she nonchalantly walks back to the car, the Trooper pulls away, and we're off.

"Mom", I said, "you always approach a car on the side of the road on the PASSENGER side, not the driver's side - you could have been killed!"

"Oh, he was a nice man just looking out for us. Although he did tell me to be careful and head back to the car".

Hopefully, One Eyed Jack is adjusting to his new territory in the State Park, and stayed away from the highway. Meanwhile, the trap has been reset in the hopes of capturing Squirrelzilla, and Grandma Kevorkian will have to wait another day for her next hapless victim.

UPDATE: Speaking of hapless vicitms, things could have gone much worse
A REPORTER sent to do a story about a baby squirrel stood on the fluffy creature by mistake and killed it.

Inka Blumensaat wanted to tell how a pet cat had saved the orphaned squirrel by adopting it as her own.

But the friendly rodent jumped on her leg as she filmed her report and she panicked and trampled it underfoot,breaking its neck.
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:13 PM  
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