Killing

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Mountain Law

Friday, August 1st, 2014

This morning, I set out to try to climb Humboldt Peak, the mountain that thwarted me last September. I’ll just go ahead and tell you that I didn’t make it to the top – because this is actually a story about something different.

In the trail description, the guidebooks said that a high-clearance, 4WD vehicle is necessary to get to the trailhead, and that if you’re not in the appropriate car, just park at the bottom of the road and hike up. Now, my Subaru Forester is far from being high-clearance, but I figured that it was worth a shot – because who wants to spend a bunch of time walking multiple miles up a rocky road?

Dumb idea. I made it about half a mile before the road got too rough for Subaruthless – and if I didn’t want to high-center my car on a boulder, I knew that I couldn’t go any further. Despite all of the signs along the road that said “PRIVATE PROPERTY” “NO TRESPASSING” and “NO PARKING,” I pulled over.

“Does anyone really enforce those signs?” I thought. “Doubtful.”

I threw on my emergency brake, placed some big rocks behind each tire to keep the car from rolling down the mountain, and Foxy and I took off for the summit.

Fast-forward a few hours. We were 5 miles in and just crossing tree line when the dark clouds got the best of my nerve, and I decided to turn around – because I have a strict No Death by Lightning policy.

Humboldt

As we headed down the trail, I started to think, “I hope my car is okay…” but was distracted by Foxy leaping into the air and catching a QUAIL in mid-flight.

“Foxy!” I yelled. “Foxy, no!”

And then before my very eyes, my sweet pooch shook a wild bird to death.

“Foxy,” I said, now serious. “Drop it.”

She opened her jaws and the lifeless fowl dropped to the ground.

I can’t decide which I’m more shocked about: that I witnessed my dearest companion’s first blood, or that she obeyed “drop it” on first command.

By now, the rain was starting to come down in sheets. I pulled on my Patagonia jacket and we high-tailed it for the car –

The car!

In all of the excitement over witnessing an actual murder, I had forgotten that my car was parked illegally on the side of a mountain road. “Surely they wouldn’t tow it…” I thought. “But there might be a ticket?”

You can imagine my relief when my Subaru came into view – and without a backwoods rancher with a shotgun alongside waiting to greet me. The rain was pouring, Foxy was a mudball, and I knew that before anything else I would need to get the towel out of the back to dry her off. I reached for the handle to the back door, put my fingers underneath the latch to pull up, and…

What is this.

I pulled my hand back toward my face and smelled my fingers.

It was feces. Of the equine variety.

I walked around to the driver’s side door to open that instead, and found the same.

Someone had packed horse poop under every door handle on my car, and smeared it on the windows for good measure.

I recoiled in horror – and then, surprise of all surprises, I giggled. Before I knew it, I was laughing hysterically in the middle of a rainstorm on the side of Humboldt Peak, drenched and muddy with a handful of horse shit. I knew that I had no right to be angry – the signs had made the rules crystal clear, and I had broken them. And the thought of a crotchety old mountain person securing their perimeter each day by applying the dung of their livestock to any offender’s vehicle… well. It was spectacular, really.

Because when it comes to Mountain Law, all’s fair in love and manure.

Annie Parsons, pure brawn

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Arriving home after work last night, I opened the living room curtains to let in some light. There on the windowpane was a spider, which, obviously, is just unacceptable. So I grabbed a flip-flop and swatted the glass.

And the entire window shattered.

I shattered my living room window with a flip-flop – because if there’s anything I’m made of, it’s unbridled strength.

My first reaction was laughter – the kind that you try to stifle so it winds up snorting out your nose. But then I thought of all the cuss words. My windows are from the 1920s – single-paned, wooden-framed, on tracks with weights in the walls to suspend them open – and they can’t be easy (or cheap) to repair.

I have homeowner’s insurance, of course, and like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. I’m sure that after the joy of paying a hefty deductible, I’ll be taken care of. But in the meantime, I’ve duct taped a mega piece of cardboard over the breach, my slapdash attempt at home security.

They say that women are like tea bags – we don’t know our own strength until we’re in hot water. Well guess what. Women are also like sledgehammers.

Think about THAT.

If you’re easily grossed out, do not scroll down

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

No, I’m serious.

I’m warning you.

Stop now, or forever hold your peace.

We caught the mouse.

And the screaming that ensued as Hannah and I disposed of it was the most obnoxious display of sissiness ever known to man.

R.I.P. little buddy.

But THAT’S NOT ALL.

We caught a second mouse.  It looked exactly the same as the death above.

So we set out even more traps.  And – horror of horrors – the traps are MOVING.  The peanut butter is getting STOLEN.  But we haven’t caught any more rodents.

You guys.  They’re getting smarter.  They are evolving, just like “Jurassic Park.”  Life finds a way…

Mousetraps

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

When I was in high school, a traveling magician came to perform at my church.  I can’t remember if he had some evangelical message that tied in with his magic show, or if he was simply a man trying to make a living turning tricks in front of anyone who would watch – but regardless, there he was, right between the American flag and the Christian flag, onstage at First Presbyterian in Montrose, Colorado.

At one point, he requested a volunteer to come up onstage for one of his acts.  Thinking that I might have the chance to get sawed in half, I quickly shot up my hand.  And since I was the pastor’s daughter, yes, OF COURSE I was the chosen one.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t going to have the chance to pick a card any card, or be the recipient of the dove that he pulled out of a top hat.  The magician presented a mousetrap, locked and loaded, and then demonstrated how its spring-rigged action could snap a pencil in half.  And then he told me to stick my fingers in it.

What.

So there I was, in front of God’s holy people, being admonished to trust a crazy traveling magic man with my extremities.  But I couldn’t back out.  So I stuck my fingers in the trap.  And with a wave of his wand or his scarf or whatever it is that he did, with a resounding thwack, the mousetrap came snapping shut.

I still have no idea how – but it didn’t touch my fingers.  I was standing there, right beside him, terrified that I was going to wind up with nubbin digits – and I still cannot explain how that mousetrap was able to clack shut without catching me.  But in any case, I screamed a scream that if you listen closely, you can still hear echoing from the year 1998.

Suffice it to say that I have been terrified of mousetraps ever since.

Fast forward to last night.  I was at the gym when I got Becca’s text saying that there was a mouse in our laundry room, and would I pick up some traps on my way home?

Sure I would.  And I’d get some black widow spray, too – because you guys, it’s the END TIMES at our house.  We are being overrun by demons.

At home in the kitchen, I carefully read the instructions and baited a mousetrap with peanut butter.  Visions of severed fingers dancing through my mind, I nervously pulled back the spring-loaded wire.  It locked into place.  I smiled, proud that I didn’t need a man or a parent or a magician to do it for me.  Holding my crowning glory of a baited trap, I walked toward the laundry room.

And right there in my hand, it SNAPPED SHUT, just grazing the side of my finger and catapulting the blob of peanut butter onto the kitchen wall.  Once again, I screamed like the end was nigh.

Judging by the current state of pests at our house, it just might be.

The stuff of horror films

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

This time last year, I was seeing ants in my kitchen.  I eventually discovered that they had raided my sugar bag, so I threw it out, and from that point on, I’ve kept my sugar in the freezer – and thus, an ant-free kitchen.

But a few weeks ago, I saw an ant.

And you know what they say: where there’s one ant, there are lots of more ants.*

For weeks, I have seen ants in my kitchen – but I was never able to figure out their point of genesis.  I cleaned the kitchen cabinets, Cloroxed the counters, sealed every food item, and cleared every crumb after every meal.

Still, the ants came marching one by one.

The other night, I was setting my coffee for the next morning.  I poured the water into the machine, and as I did, I caught sight of an ant camouflaged on the side of the black coffee maker.

I killed it.

And then, I saw another ant come crawling out of the machine.

So I killed it, too.

And all of a sudden, there was a flood, a deluge, a gushing of ants coming out of my coffee maker.

My coffee maker.

The hotbed was IN MY COFFEE MAKER.

Shockingly, I didn’t scream, but I made a pathetic, drawn out, traumatized noise of some sort – somewhere between a moan and a cry and a “Die, scum” sob.  I aimed the bottle of Clorox at the teeming swarm, and just started spraying – spraying like a stream of Charlie Sheen nonsense.  Finally, I slammed the lid shut, took the entire coffee machine, dumped it in a Hefty bag, and marched it to the dumpster.

You do realize what this means, right?

For weeks, I have been drinking coffee that has been STRAINED THROUGH ANTS.

I will never, ever recover from this.

*Not an actual phrase, but true all the same.  Obviously.

Bug, bug, fox

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Last night, I was flipping through a hymnal (trust me: if you had no cable or internet, you’d be doing it, too) and paused at “There Is a Fountain.” Twenty-six years in the church, and I had never heard this song? Outrageous! So I started singing it, all quiet and peaceful and lovely (belying my actual persona), sitting there on the red couch.

When. From out of nowhere.

A hybrid spider-cricket (spicket?), unlike anything I have ever seen, crawled into plain sight, right in the middle of the living room floor. I screeeeeeeeeeamed, and threw the book at it. The hymnal book. It turns out that the words of life are also capable of bringing about death, and for this, I am grateful.

In other news, I am sick. My windpipe is a straw. My sinuses are packed like sausages, like thighs into pantyhose. I am doped up on cold medicine, which gave me a satisfying night’s sleep last night, but is resulting in a vacant stare and a gaping mouth sitting at the ol’ desk job today. I called a health clinic for the uninsured, but they are not accepting new patients until November. Looks like I’ll be riding this one out on a wave of Contac and tomato soup (Progresso makes a fantastic tomato soup – so much cheaper and healthier than Whole Foods cream-based option, but a million times more delicious than Campbell’s – it even has real tomato chunkage!).

And should this buggy blog leave you unfulfilled (which I suspect it might), be sure to read this fantastic example of poor redneck judgment. But who could blame him, really? I mean, his last name was Fox.

And now, for a blog about animals and death

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

When I was in junior high, I was asked to pet-sit for some family friends while they went away for the week. It was an animal lover’s dream come true – horses, cows, dogs, cats, and ducks, all to myself – and I got PAID. I showed up once in the morning and once at night to feed the beasts, and would run from pen to pen while my mom waited in the car.

Early one misty Colorado morning, I walked into the coop where the ducks were housed to find every last one of them beheaded.

Decapitated.

Guillotined.

Their lifeless bodies lay in the sawdust and dirt, blood soaked into the ground around them, their heads nowhere to be found. I screamed a scream that screamed TRAUMA, and then ran to get my mom. It turns out that both skunks and raccoons kill ducks and eat their brains, and this was our best guess as to what happened. Needless to say, that pet-sitting job was a bust.

I once pet-sat for a family in Seattle who had a golden retriever and a rat. At the time, the rat had a large tumor on its chest, and before the family left on vacation, the mother pulled me aside and told me that they would pay me extra if I killed the rat while they were gone, thus sparing their children the anguish. “How?” I asked, and she replied, “Any way you want.”

At first, I thought, “No way” – how sick and wrong is it to put a 20-year old girl up to murdering an animal for cash? But as the week wore on, I thought of the money. And as a result, I found myself imagining sealing the rat in a Ziploc bag, or putting it in a box in the freezer, or employing the ever-handy RAT POISON. I mean, if there’s payment involved… but alas, I chickened out, and wound up letting it live.

There was only one woman in Seattle who I would consistently pet-sit for, and she had a black hell-cat named Tika. Tika was aloof and sleek and sexy and absolutely unperturbed by life. She wore a leopard print collar, and casually batted around orange balls and feathered cat toys. I would call her in at night, and then wait about 20 minutes for her to show up, as if to communicate, “I’m here, but not because you called me – I’m here because I DECIDED to come.” She could be a bit eccentric, which is why she was on Kitty Prozac that I had to mix into her Fancy Feast every morning.

Once, Tika pranced inside with a still-alive sparrow in her mouth. When she let it go, it started flying around, dripping blood and shedding feathers. I SCREAMED, grabbed a broom, and Mark McGwired it, mid-air, straight out the front door. I thought that was the worst thing that could possibly happen. But.

The next time, Tika dragged… dragged… in a pigeon the size of football. She lugged it to the middle of the kitchen floor, and then let it go, revealing its OPEN CHEST, its STILL-BEATING HEART, its arteries pumping blood out all over the tiled floor. Its wings would occasionally ruffle up, and its mouth was opening-shutting, opening-shutting, in final desperate, heroic efforts toward life. The blood was everywhere. It was dying. Tika was watching it die. I was watching it die.

I did not know what to do. I almost vomited, because WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH A BLOODY STILL-ALIVE ALMOST-DEAD NEARLY-ALBATROSS-SIZED BIRD? On the kitchen floor?

I curled up in a ball on the couch, gasping for air, and felt silent tears squeeze out of the corners of my scrunched-shut eyes. Then I called my mom, because what else was I going to do? She told me to think of it as a giant spider that I needed to catch in a jar, and then release outside.

Gee, thanks.

But her words inspired me to find a dust pan and scoop the (STILL-ALIVE, and BLEEDING, and MUTILATED) pigeon into a bucket, and finally deposit it behind a bush outside. Needless to say, I am still suffering the aftermath of this agonizing event.

I have not had the best luck with pet-sitting, as the animals in my care have either wound up killed, almost killed, or killers. And I have no larger moral or point to this report.

Killing flies

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

I don’t want to grow up.

I don’t want to think about insurance, and a 401k, and heart disease, and my future. I don’t want to get creaky knees. I don’t want to learn how to cook a turkey. I don’t want to make hard decisions, and be the responsible one, and do my own taxes.

I really don’t want to buy a fly-swatter.

For some reason, buying a fly-swatter feels like this very adult thing to do. I’ve never bought a fly-swatter before, because my parents (the GROWN UPS) always had one. True, I have not lived with my parents for almost 8 years now, but somehow I have escaped ever needing one while not having access to one.

I currently have three monstrous, enormous flies in my apartment. They’re huge, and they’re like needy little kids, or puppies, in that when I’m home, they ALWAYS WANT TO HANG OUT WITH ME. They buzz and fly and land on my lotioned legs. My lotion must smell good – either that, or I smell like a pile of excrement. I suppose that flies aren’t too picky.

Last night, while reading in bed, the flies hummed around my head. I took my Paulo Coelho paperback and swatted at them a few times, but they couldn’t take the hint. Flies can be so rude.

I have waited a few days, thinking that they might just die in my apartment. But there are enough coffee grounds and banana peels in my trash can for them to live a long and satisfying life. It’s time that I take action.

It’s time to be a big girl. It’s time to buy a fly-swatter, and go on an insect-killing spree. It’s time to defend my house and home.

Everyone has to grow up some time. Unfortunately for the flies, the embracing of my adulthood is going to result in their rather violent demise. They will see my murderous form duplicated over and over in their multi-faceted eyes, and that will be the last thing that they see… and see… and see… before being flattened.

I’m pretty sure that I’ll let out a “HA-CHAH!” too. Because I am a grown up.