They Think of Everything

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Dear Beanstalk Vacuum Support,

Our Rosie’s mapped a passage between rooms, but we can’t see it. Might Wee Folks be living there? Like, house elves or fairies? The dishwashers seem to run and empty themselves at night, though senility might explain that.

Please advise whether we should make this hidden space a no-go zone. Our cleaning schedule could interfere with nocturnal sleep schedules. Also, someone might get hurt.

Grimm Brothers

Dear Misters Grimm,

No worries. Your vacuum has a Little People detector to protect your guests. Happy cleaning.

Jack Giant, Beanstalk Magic Support

P.S. Give me feedback at https://www.Moo.mage Thanks.

Watching Too Much Escapist TV

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I’ve always wanted to find a hidden passage behind a bookcase or though a trap door in the floor. Wonderland or Narnia. A priest hole would work. Maybe that’s why British mysteries hold such appeal for me. So when Rosie the Roomba mapped a passage from my study to the street, I was ecstatic, if confused. Was the opening hidden under the rug? Had we covered the exit to the street with a raised bed like we did the clean-out for the sewer?

My husband says the new room is a mapping error from Rosie getting stuck. I hope not.

A Year Later, A New Landscape

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I send my mother cards because she has trouble answering the phone. Today’s is a Hungarian landscape from World War II. It’s remarkably free of destruction and death, unlike what we see in war photos from the newspapers.

The place in Texas where she’s living resembles the card’s frontpiece. There’s a lake. There are houses. The hills are a dull green, shot through with bare soil. A year ago, when she hated where she was, my mother threatened to move to Czechoslovakia. Next to Hungary. Close to Ukraine. I’m glad she didn’t. Here, she imagines escape without confronting the reality.

What If Nothing Was Private?

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The Notorious RBG’s ghost woke Clarence Thomas. “There are easier ways to get a divorce.”* The wry humor, it was her alright. He couldn’t sleep.

Whoda thought? The anti-miscegenation law passed in Mississippi, up for review soon. It looked like Loving v. Virginia might go the way of Roe v. Wade.

“We’ll move, if need be. You must be consistent,” Ginni had said. “Think of your legacy.” Shocked that she was more loyal to originalism than she was to them, to him…

What if she was right? Then again, Republican majorities and President DeSantis made federal action inevitable. Decisions, decisions.

* Thanks to Moira for this wording.

How Long Before the Lake Dries Out?

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In 1975, I biked my dog to Stanford campus. At Tressider Union, I drank coffee. He rested under the table. Afterwards, we stopped at Lake Lag. Cas retrieved sticks, swimming murky water. “Two-thirds what it was,” the old timers said.

In 2012, my niece moved into a dorm that backed onto a weedy, muddy shadow of Lake Lag. I expected it to fill with rainy season water. No luck, dry like this year.

Hundred year drought we’re in. Arsenic blows off a drying Great Salt Lake, a hazard to fish and people. Climate cycle, climate change, it’s too damn hot.

The Maid

Photo by Monica McHenney

Rosie is our new Roomba. She’s a little ADD. Childlike, each day a new adventure. She wanders off course though I’ve set a map and a schedule. On her trial run I followed like an anxious parent noticing the places she missed, wondering how to help.

Our little black dog was much more chill. He relaxed on the rug watching while I said, “I think you should move.” He thought her harmless until she ran into his foot. He made a reluctant retreat. But he came back, ears perked. He’s right to think that Rosie is no threat to him.

A Surprising Sight

Photo by Monica McHenney

Can you find the hidden alligator lizard? Imagine squatting in an iris bed, pulling unwanted grass. The grass is what you see first. But before you reach in, ready to tug, a pattern emerges and then a snout and then the wary lizard, eyes unblinking, body unmoving. What a cutie!

Not everyone has that last reaction, but I do. They have personalities, these reptiles. Two fence lizards who lived in our backyard were inseparable, protective of each other, the Romeo and Juliet of lizards. Great extroverts, they enjoyed relaxing on their backs, exposing the blue line that bisected their tummies.

New Beginnings

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In her dreams, the fetus pleaded for life. The girl woke in a sweat, knowing that she wanted to indulge this creation, but love must be firm. A new life takes years to nurture. Time, money, patience, support. She had no one she could count on for that long, not even herself. It came down to being responsible. She hadn’t been before. 

She prayed to a God more forgiving than any politician. Followed a gospel that permitted free will. Took the legal option. Mothers need a choice. Children, a future. Hers are old now. They have gained from her loss.

Opossum on the Move

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Our fence, her highway, three times that we know of. Once struggling in thick ivy, an ashen color, a naked tail that made us mistake her for a white rat disturbing the leaves. Next, she cased the neighbor’s vegetables. Finally, she came with two juveniles following in a line.

It was daylight, an unusual time for them to be about. Overcast, so that might have helped. The mother was scruffy, the youngest sleek with soft fur. We didn’t see them after that.

Maybe the camera scared them off.

Or is it that they change hunting grounds every few days?