Hope, humor, miracle, motherhood, Survival

When Ducks Bentley Imprints on You

Ducks BentleyJack’s Spring Break happened this week. While my men worked at the family farm in Troup, TX, I kicked some dust up of my own. I cleaned my 17 year old son’s room. The debris from the cleanup warranted machinery which, instead of returning to the garage, I crammed atop the dryer and shut the door. When John returned home and began his laundry I grabbed my crap pile of tools to return to their rightful spot.

Hands full, I hipped-open the door knob (they don’t lie) and was stunned by the sight of our Lab chasing a baby wood duck. With his teeth. I screamed bloody murder and in my nightgown and morning hair a-blazing I slung my load, snatched the baby and nestled it protectively to my chest. John came running and as usual said something about the neighbors calling the Police about domestic abuse, blah, blah, blah.

Since I’ve seen that Dawn commercial like a 1,000 times I consider myself a waterfowl-recovery expert. John told me to Google proper procedure for duckling care and agencies who would help so I immediately introduced my chihuahuas to the orphan because that was way more fun. Realizing that my duck-whispering dreams were temporarily coming true he gave me my moment and did the due diligence himself.

John looked outside and thought he saw the mother in search of her baby. We kenneled the dogs and let Ducks Bentley out back to see if she would come get him. No sign. He wandered to the front yard with that heartbreakingly displaced cry and no luck. He hopped down the street and I absolutely could not just leave the hatchling to chance with all of the cats and dogs on our street. I continued to walk Eastward but lost sight of him. Eyes closed, I honed in on a faint cheep and kept walking until I saw him.

My friend knew a Veterinarian who rehabs ducklings for the state and said he would take care of it. My heart was satisfied that I had done my duty as a foster parent and he was in good hands. That afternoon when I called to see how the re-homing was going, I got some alarming news. The Vet could not take Ducks and so my friend set him free on a nearby lake. He checked on him later that day and said he looked ok but that if he did not find ducks of his own kind soon that he wouldn’t make it for long. Oh no.

I dropped the phone and headed for the Elks Lodge Lake a few blocks from our home where Ducks had been released. Not letting the “Members and Friends of Members” sign dissuade me, I blazed up the entrance. To my shock this was no pond. It was a LAKE lake. My heart sank. I walked down the boat ramp and called for Ducks Bentley. Looking high and low I spent 15 minutes calling for him. No duckling anywhere.

Walking along the wooded shore I prayed and came to peace with the fact that if I could not find Ducks Bentley that God was just going to have to look out for him. I am a hopelessly optimistic realist I guess. I returned to my car and drove further down the shore. I did not see another entry point for the lake and a foreboding  chain link fence blocked entry to the rest of the lakefront. I did see a jon boat but I didn’t want to push my luck with trespassing and theft. One misdemeanor at a time is my mantra.

In the distance I spotted a pier and parked my car. Getting out, I sloshed through the saturated grass toward the clearing, calling for Ducks Bentley all the while. I scanned the watery horizon for a bright yellow and black wood duckling yet saw nothing.  As I called, the mature ducks swam farther and farther away from me. It dawned on me what an absurd a needle-in-a-haystack endeavor this was and I did not even know why I felt so compelled to find him. Looking for the positives, I reminded myself that at least I had tried.

I spent 10 more minutes alternately calling and listening near the pier. I thought I heard a faint cheeping amid the throngs of other dusky nature sounds. The cheep was weak yet  growing stronger. I set my glance in the cry’s direction but I saw nothing. West to East, North to South I searched for what my ears believed to be the echo of my orphaned acquaintance.  There was no duckling in sight but the ever-amplified cheep fueled my hope that there would be.

Then like a winning lottery ticket I saw a tiny yellow and black speck round a bend across the water and paddle straight for me. This was crazy! I got louder and louder and screamed “Grammy’s here for you! Come to Grammy!” Grammy is my self-designation for all the creatures of the world form dogs to fish and now expanding to the world of waterfowl. Ducks paddled closer and closer and my shock increased.

Maneuvering awkwardly through the lily pads, up came my foster-duckling. He ambled on shore shaking beads of water off and I stood still as not to scare him. He promptly sat on my foot and lifting him, I began to cry at the completely bizarre chain of events. I texted John a picture of my ugly-cry reunion and understandably John was ecstatic over my good fortune. “So, what are you going to do with him?” He asked. I answered that I would find an agency to raise him with his species but we have to stabilize the little guy at least for the night.

I opened the car and sat Ducks Bentley on my lap. He hiked up into my elbow pit and rested, exhausted form his wearisome day. I got an aquarium, a light, grass and meal worms for Ducks which I floated atop the water to teach him to hunt. John engineered the heat lamp and we arranged his habitat carefully. I set a clock next to the duckling to simulate a mother’s heartbeat and turned on the radio for some white noise. The song that came on? “The Dance,” by Garth Brooks. And, no, I did not dance with Ducks.

Today I am looking for a wood duck habitat / agency to take him and reunite him with his people. He needs to learn how to be a duck and I am of no help there. He is precious but he deserves to live happy and free. While I have loved living out a Modern Family episode, Ducks belongs somewhere else. Still, I will never forget this teeny tiny little Ducks Bentley who swam a lake to get back to me.













#pethumor #exhaustedparenting, humor

Now Trending: Bearded Dragons

Nim’s Island had been out a year. The movie starring Abigail Breslin, Jody Foster and Fred the bearded dragon spiked a marked increase in lizard fever and our household was not immune. Fred was so cool; sitting on Abigail’s shoulder, giving high fives and doing long division. In the 2009 fog of grief and temporary insanity, we gladly accepted the “gift” of a bearded dragon from a “friend.” Jack loved him. Freddy looked like a dinosaur and was fun to watch hunt crickets. For a solid 13 minutes. That was 6 years ago.

My cousin Bill gave into his kid’s bearded dragon request. In the pet store check out line he casually asked the cashier what the typical lifespan was. When the Petco worker mentioned 15 YEARS, Bill dropped the 50 gallon tank and basking lamp quicker than you can say Little Miss Sunshine. He got all the brains in the family. He intuitively knew that a pet which lives three times as long as the average marriage in our country is a bad call.

I blame it on pet stores. They should really offer reptile counseling to protect people like me from myself. Or at the very least have a Match.com kiosk to see if this is actually a good fit. But they don’t. Not at all. They manipulate consumer demand: advertising eye-catching propaganda like “BEARDED DRAGONS COMING SOON” on empty tanks with fake jungle backdrops for effect. In reality there is an overabundance of bearded dragons, they just hold them like diamonds and release them intermittently. DeBearded Dragon style.

Most of our collective poor parental judgement is nothing but exhaustion. We are just too tired to fight sometimes. Between work, permission slips, laundry and travel soccer something’s gotta give. And it is usually our sanity. Parents are only as happy as their least happy child and kids are cranky these days. That’s why we give our nine-year-olds iPhones and impulse pets like bearded dragons. At least the iPhones are breakable. I still have a creepy micro-dinosaur upstairs scratching off his days on a calendar with his pointy nail like he’s in San Quentin.

To be fair, life with Freddy has not been all bad. We’ve had some fun. He’s hung in there like a champ unlike the 2 hens which turned out to be roosters and the fire toad to whom I literally administered mouth-to-mouth breathing in 2009. Don’t judge me; there had been just too much loss. I’ve taken the little prehistoric guy on field trips. Jack wanted Freddy to meet his fifth grade class. So I wore him like a broach into the First Baptist Church School building where unfortunately the preschoolers had already lined up for carpool. About 10% of the toddlers were stoked while the other 90 screamed bloody murder.

The truly beautiful circle of pet life continues. When our “friend’s” wife wanted my opinion on getting a chihuahua for their 10-year-old daughter, I gave her my honest opinion that every pre-teen girl needs the unconditional love and unlimited clothing opportunities of a chihuahua. Olive the precious puppy was adopted on Tuesday and already has a Spring Wardrobe. Her life is totally made and as soon as Spring Training is over and our “friend” returns home he will have an awesome surprise waiting for him! No worries, Don, they only live about 15 years.

humor, hunting, mother son relationship

I Love it When a Plan Comes Together!

Click here for Video of Jack’s prank!

It will surprise precisely no one who knows us that the heat went out of the truck en route to Mimi’s in Houston for Christmas. Luckily we had the three dogs with us so it was literally a three-dog-night. On wheels. Christmas Day. We stopped in Nacogdoches for coffee and further orchestrated the Fed Ex charade (sha-rrodd) we were playing on Mimi with our surprise early arrival.

None of the gifts I sent my Mom via Fed Ex actually made it to Mullins. NO doubt this woman was kicking her restless leg in the air on the sofa by 6:57 the Saturday our delivery man supposedly rang the doorbell. (Personally, I envision the guy who drops the TV over the 5 foot fence and scurries off) Subsequently my Mother had NOTHING to open from me on Christmas Day. Jesus’ Birthday, no less and the woman who bore ME was gift less. As a daughter the thought of your widow Mother not opening a gift from you on December 25th is anathema. So after our Shreveport Christmas gift openings and dinner we packed up Ramstein and hatched our plan.

Because I never learned how to let upended plans, knocked-over wedding cake or undelivered gifts to the woman who plans for months what the 16 of her offspring will receive get the last word, something radically fabulous was in order. And oh yea, Jack delivered a grand slam performance. If the highest form of flattery is imitation, there is a heroically awkward Fed Ex guy with scruffy goatee and a speech impediment whose buttons should be busting. Jack nailed you awkward Fed Ex guy.

Since there is no costume shop open on December 25th, (go figure) I improvised. Poverty teaches you to be resourceful and you don’t have two babies on a missionaries’ salary and not learn a thing or two. I scoured the house for Halloween wigs but they were long since donated and probably hanging in some third-world market I had seen on 60 minutes by now. After cranking out  the Christmas ham, the faux fur of a Christmas stocking caught my peripheral vision. I knew instantly in my soul depths that this trim married with a healthy wad of double-sided tape was just the eyebrow/ sideburn/ goatee of my dreams and of my 16-year-old’s nightmares.

He went full boar on it. Armed with the actual Fed Ex receipt from the defunct delivery attempt, clip board and BIZARRE questions we arrived at Mimi’s with nothing to lose. John, God love this man, parked a block away as not to give away our true identity. I left a message at 9:30 that the new delivery had been delayed but they promised to be there by 10 p.m. with something from me but she would have to sign. I roped Brother Brink into my ruse and he told her she needed to sign for the gift.

I was hidden around the corner with phone at the perfect angle to video Mimi in her post-bath, disoriented glory. Jack rang the doorbell and I let out a muffled laugh of absurdity as often pops out right before a hysterical plan unfolds.  Mimi hesitantly opened the door and immediately was taken aback by the hunched-over appearance of the “Fed Ex Employee.” After teaching non-verbal communication on an adjunct basis for DBU, i knew how important the props were. I ironed-on FED EX letters on an old ski cap and sweatshirt and knew that those would temporarily trick Mimi into buying the weirdo’s story.

Jack secured Mimi’s signature for the poinsettia and proceeded to ask a battery of questions, each one more bizarre than the next. He began with your son “Jimmy Henson” who sent a package from Albuquerque and addressed the package to “Mim” Richardson. Which she corrected to Mimi then finally for safety sake let it go with the wave of the hand. He proceeded to butcher my name, calling me Jimmy and Janie before snickering. Mimi reacted by inching backward and drawing the front door to more of a closed position. Then she asked him if he was ok after he snickered. He responded with some story about his buddy “Joe,” being in a “predicament.” Oh my… the improv! Eventually Mimi through furrowed brow asked, “Jack. Is that you?” and the gig was up.

But the gig of punking my poor Mother was enough to be watched 18.7K times on Facebook. How crazy is that? If only we would’ve foisted the unedited version out there in cyber space! So, frozen or not, we arrived to surprise my poor, unsuspecting Mother on Christmas Night, It was a BLAST. So even an epic Fed Ex fail does not have to mean an epic Christmas fail. It may just be the perfect set up for a hilarious stunt. And clearly we do all our own.