The Barely Extended Family came to visit for our island’s garden tour. Only the very elite gardens are featured on this tour, and competition to be chosen is very intense. The Friendly Neighbours, gardeners extraordinaire, were selected. (The competition is very intense, and beneath the surface of immense politeness, fairly passionate, and even downright nasty…)

Mrs. Random became a docent for the tour. I was chosen to help guide visitors on where to park their Mercedes, BMWs, or Lexi.

Tickets to the tour are fairly expensive, hence the high proportion of visitors driving luxury cars. All the money from the tickets goes to charities. The visitors get to slake the need for natural beauty in their lives, and ease their guilt at being well off in a world of immense suffering.

Mrs. Random is very shy and very introverted, so it was only natural that she be assigned to help guide people. I have been a teacher and learned to act like an extrovert, so to keep me away from victims trapped in the garden, I was assigned to parking.

 Parking at big events such as this–over a 1,000 people came on one Saturday, is amazingly complicated. If not handled well, one could film a movie full of car crashes, shoot outs, carjackings, and the like.

 While I could write a novel on the day, I will limit myself to a short sketch describing my taking advantage of the opportunity to do stand up comedy as I helped guide visitors to an appropriate parking spot. Many of the rich visitors are elderly. They are easily confused and do not want to walk a long distance. Some are handicapped, with mobility limited by hip replacements and the like.

 In the battle plan, using cones and crime scene tape, we laid out the private dirt road with one-way parking, facing out, to make escape easy. Six parkers spaced over a mile of road carried walkie-talkies and wore road worker vests. Typical helpful advice I provided:

 “I am going to have you turn around here and send you the other way. I will guide you so you don’t end up in the ditch while you are turning around.”

 “As a special bonus for visiting the garden, you will get some cardiovascular exercise. It’s good for your heart. To make that possible, drive down to the next parker.”

 A lot of pedestrians walked in the middle of the road in a fairly clueless manner. Naturally, I warned people as they drove on the narrow road, “If you can hit at least ten people as you drive to your parking spot, we will provide a 50% refund of your ticket price.” [Seriously, one of the parking guides did suffer a mild, glancing blow from one of the drivers, but was not injured.]

 My best effort was, “You will need to drive a long way. Then you will get to turn around and get closer. It looks worse than it is. Except, it is worse than it looks.”

The parkers working down the road reported the drivers had a very glazed, confused expression on their faces and obeyed instructions in an obedient, almost robotic manner.

It’s a Tough Job…

June 17, 2010

Mrs. Random is obsessed with everything in our house being neat, tidy, in its proper place, and looking “respectable.” Mrs. Friendly Neighbor is somewhat the same way, but not quite so much. Her comment: “Mrs. Random is more like I am than I am.”

When Random Granddaughter was about two years old, she began to indicate disgust at bugs, slugs, and other little creepy things. I thought she was too prissy for a little kid. I would touch slugs to indicate that she should be less fussy. One of her first complete sentences to me was, “Grandpa, I would really like you not to slugs anymore.”

Although I am a feminist sort of guy, I came to the conclusion that some differences between men and women are inherent and not the products of socialization.

However, I warned Mommy (daughter’s partner and birth mother of RG) that when RG next comes to visit and see our teenage hens (aka the “juvenile delinquents”), she would have to help me collect sow bugs to feed chickens. The chickens regard sow bugs as the equivalent of candy. They like grass, but if it has multiple legs and scuttles, it is better than anything else, they think.

Mommy told me that RG has taken to collecting sow bugs, playing with them, and creating little houses for them to live in. [I guess this is how a kindergartner plays with dolls now.]

Worried that I might offend or traumatize RG by feeding darling little sow bugs to chickens, I told Mommy I would feed the chicks only a vegetarian diet for one day.

Mommy replied by email, “RG knows that humans eat chickens [even though some keep them as pets]. So if she is all right with that, she should be able to handle the chickens eating sow bugs.

“It’s a tough job being at the top of the food chain, but somebody has to do it.”

Our three baby chickens, (now teenagers in chicken years) known collectively as “the juvenile delinquents” have received individual names, displayed individual personalities, and are now introduced to you. Perhaps this is their “coming out” party.

The smallest one is known as Little Peep. Although the others pick on her, she is fairly spunky. Mrs. Random, small and spunky, identifies with her. “She is very standoffish and doesn’t like me to pick her up,” says Mrs. Random, an introvert who likes to hide in the woods.

The punk of the bunch is Moll. Originally Moe, Mrs. Random did not regard that name as describing her attitude. We have been concerned that Moll is a rooster, but if so, she is a very small rooster. Moll is always trying to break out of their cage, either by pecking her way out through the cardboard that lines the indoor cage, or by flying out when Mrs. Random lifts the top to bring in food or water. Moll pecks the hands that fees her so sharply that I have taken to wearing gloves. Moll is turning into the Little Liu of the flock, frankly.

Big Mama is the largest of the group. Perhaps we will have to put a treadmill in the coop so she doesn’t get too fat. I am working on getting some pictures of the three hens, but frankly, once you have seen one picture of a teenage juvenile delinquent chicken, you probably have seen enough chicken pictures to last you for days.