My father, who always seems amused to find himself in my blog, called today to report a tale so unspeakable, so disgusting, that it had to be recorded for posterity. And of course, it began with the poodles. The oldest poodle, mother of some of the others, is named She-ra. (I know one of the others is named Xena. Mavis likes warrior women.) She's old, and deaf, and somewhat arthritic, and unfortunately epileptic, which is why Mavis is no longer breeding poodles--having discovered that there's epilepsy in the line, and it is, indeed, hereditary, she did the responsible dog breeding thing and closed up shop. Anyway. She-ra, despite her infirmity, is a fearsome mouser, and occasionally totters into the bedroom bearing a bedraggled prize. Not unlike cats, the prize must be taken away, or she'll eat it on the bed. So, after being told repeatedly what a good dog she is, the mouse is taken away, the dog gets a treat for being a Mighty Hunter, Dad doesn't have a poodle raining mousey bits all over the blankets, and all is right with the world. The other evening, Dad has removed his glasses* before bed, making him okay with shapes but bad with details. Somewhat blurry She-ra comes into the bedroom carrying a small indistinct object, deposits object on the floor, and waits to be praised. Object is, indeed, a dead mouse. It gets picked up, the dog gets praised, and Dad is about to go to bed when he notices movement on the floor. He squints. "Mavis--that thing must have been lying on the ground! There's sowbugs all over the floor!" Mildly revolted, he goes out, locates the dustbuster, and comes back to dispose of the offenders, only to find Mavis examining the area with some interest. "Put on your glasses," she says, "they're not sowbugs." Dad locates his glasses and discovers, to his abject horror, that, far from a frezhly slain mouse, the poodle had discovered carrion and the floor is now littered with maggots. I wasn't there, of course, so I am extrapolating purely from knowledge of both myself and my father when I say that I suspect he levitated off the floor, twitched repeatedly, and made horrible "AAUAUGHHHHEEERRRKKKGROOOOSSSS!" noises. He drops the dustbuster, runs out of the house to the garage, and returns a few minutes later, armed with the shopvac. At this point, let us discuss my stepmother Mavis. Mavis is not made of the stuff that my father and I are made of, which might best be described as a good-natured chocolate shell over a heart of purest marshmallow. Mavis, on the other hand, is kin to pioneer women and Civil War field medics. Mavis can and has castrated pigs and performed C-sections on dying guinea pigs. Mavis is tough. If we are ever trapped in a zombie movie, Dad and I will be casualties of the first ten frames, but Mavis will last to the bitter end, sealing up zombie bites with superglue, delivering a couple of babies along the way, and take an unbelievable number of the living dead out with her right before the credits. I make this digression to explain the sight that greetd my father, watching his lovely wife gather up maggots from the floor, by hand, carrying them in her palm. "What are you dooooooooiiinnng?!" says my father, shopvac in hand, in the depths of horror which only a true bug-hater can achieve. "The fish'll love these!" she exclaimed. (She keeps a great deal of enormous, spectacular koi.) "But...but...they're in your hand! "Fish love stuff like this!" "But you're touching them!" "They're only squirmy. They're not slimy or anything." "I didn't need to hear that. And I am calling Ursula and telling her to put this in her blog." "Sigh..." And so, my father was allowed to vaccuum the area thoroughly, Mavis's fish got their tasty treat, and the world has been informed. And yes, I'm sure she washed her hands thoroughly afterwards. (Mavis, while mildly embarassed to know that 900+ people would read of this incident, will hopefully take comfort from the knowledge that she'll probably get some fans out of it, since undoubtedly among my readers there are those with equally amazing stomachs. My father, on the other hand, will get the vindication of those of us who go "AUGHGHHHH!" Everybody's a winner!) *Like me, he had twenty/twenty vision. This lasted for about forty years, and then suddenly he needed trifocals. I anticipate a similiar experience in time.