April 12th, 2006


Slice of Life -- Ornithology Division

James was outside, having a cigarette and watching the birds. I came to the screen door.

U: "Birds out in force?"

J: "Yep. I saw a woodpecker on the stand."

Now, there's two woodpecker snags on our property--dead, topless and limbless trees riddled with woodpecker holes. They sway less than any tree in the yard, due to lack of wind resistance, so I'm not particularly worried about them coming down any time soon, and the Wildlife Foundation encourages people to leave them up whenever even remotely possible, or to make artificial ones, because it's the primary habitat for a great many woodpeckers.

As far as Jamesisms go, substituting "stand" for "snag" barely raises an eyebrow. I let it pass.

U: "I know there's a red-bellied wood...pecker...that...hangs...around...the...holy crap!"

As I watched, a red-headed woodpecker flew nonchalantly off the snag and vanished into the greenway.

While I have red-headed woodpeckers on my lifelist, it's from one dismal sighting. Literally--it took place in the middle of the Great Dismal Swamp. It was a red-headed woodpecker, largely because there was nothing else it COULD be, with the red noggin and the big white back markings, (and even a rank novice like myself can identify a red-headed woodpecker on a dark night at a hundred paces--the markings are as crisp and distinctive as birds get) but it wasn't a sighting I was particularly happy with. I wanted to SEE that bird. I wanted to get up close and personal. A distant squinting through binoculars did not satisfy me.

And now one visits the snag behind the house. Dude.

(no subject)

Three days after the poison ivy broke out, and I am as itchy as an itchy thing. My right forearm looks like I've got mild leprosy. The calagel helps. For some reason, the sizeable patch on the side of my face doesn't itch much at all, for which I am desperately grateful.

Also, in case anybody's wondering, if you mistake a zit for poison ivy and put sulfer-stinking gel stuff on it...actually, just don't do that. You'll regret it in new and exciting ways if you do.

I tromped outside with James to point out the Offending Weed. "There. That. That thing. With the red roots. That's poison ivy."


"No. There. On the tree. The vine."

"This?" He poked it.

"Yes! Now don't touch me!"

"Oh, god. I must still be immune then. I was hauling on that thing like crazy the other day."

I gazed at him, grimly imagining James yanking on the Weed and then strolling indoors, casually touching towels, laundry, walls, faucets, toilet handles, doorknobs, etc, leaving a trail of oily itchy death behind him. I was living with a bearded Typhoid Mary. Fortunately, being a former cook, he washes his hands more frequently than the average mortal, but still.

He tromped inside and washed his hands, then went off to work. I went to take a shower, and found myself staring glumly at the soap. There was only the one bar. We're still living surrounded by towers of boxes. Somebody had JUST posted about soap with oil on it transferring from person to person. Was I to allow this glycerin Judas to touch my squishy bits?* Never! I went box diving.

Fortunately, my mother is always giving me weird soaps, and most of them never get used because James is afraid he'll eat them on accident. Wedged between a brass pig head holding a ring in its mouth and a box of Q-tips, I found something soap-looking with a bee on it. Hmm. Bees. Probably not any bees in the soap, which meant it was likely honey-flavored. I took it into the shower.

Now I smell like a wildflower smoothie, with hints of sulfer. I don't think this'll catch on as a fragrance, or a flavor, although the marketing would be entertaining. "Hell's Meadow," maybe or "Wildflowers in the Abyss."

And I itch.

*In the kind of slack shape I'm in, this constitutes most of my anatomy.