Hen Pecked

November 14, 2010

 

Most people who keep chickens around here only keep hens. There are a lot of problems with roosters. Not just the crowing in the middle of the night. They don’t live that long. They are vicious and jealous as well, When my wife and I affectionately pet our three hens (who are now all laying eggs), they all “assume the position”; that is, they squat down so the rooster (which they think we are) can mount them.

If we had a rooster and he observed us petting our chickens (which we do affectionately) he would be outraged and likely attack us in a fury. “That’s one of my harem you blankety-blank!” he would scream. An outraged rooster can do a lot of damage.

Lots of people around here keep chickens; most of us avoid having roosters. For various reasons lots of people hatch or purchase small chicks that turn out to be roosters. It’s hard to tell the difference. People also become very sentimental about their chickens; they don’t want to eat or cull the roosters.

I dropped off some stuff today at a local recycling center. They often have chickens wandering the center. Hmm…they all look kind of big; they look like roosters, I thought today.

I asked the manager, “Don’t you lose some of your chickens to predators, letting them wander around free like that? I have some chickens, but they are really safely caged in.”

“Oh, yeah,” she said. “Those these have been around for a year or so; that’s pretty good. My hens at home are well protected, but I don’t worry about the roosters here at the center. People hate to kill their roosters, so they just drop them off here at the recycling center.” Her shrug eloquently said, Where they have to survive on their own.

So remember when you drop off a nice couch at your local thrift center; it better be able to take care of itself when the coyote, raccoons, and eagles come around and start scratching the furniture

Advertisements

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.

Building an escape ladder into the chicken coop

Chicken House Under Construction

If our current project were a film, it would probably be called, “Laurel and Hardy Build a Chicken House. Nevertheless, much of the frame is now up. The baby chicks arrive at the end of April.

When Random Granddaughter was a little tyke of three or so, she dreamed of being a train engineer, ferry captain, or a fire chief. Now that she is all grown up at five years old, she plans to be a teacher and an artist, though her behavior in kindergarten suggests she will likely be an outlaw.

At an early age, I thought I might be a humorous writer such as Dave Barry or Bill Bryson, or perhaps a comedian, such as Bob Newhart or Bill Cosby.

Although Dave Barry entertained millions of readers and Bob Newhart entertained millions of listeners and viewers, I entertained perhaps a few score readers of my blog and amused perhaps a few hundred captives to the computer classes I taught. Although I visited comedy clubs when I was in my 30s, I never had the courage to try the “open mike.” One reason was that I am not that funny. Another reason is that I don’t think that quickly on my feet. I knew if I were heckled (as comedians always are), I would not think of a comeback until 24 hours later.

Last week I taught my first AARP Senior Driver Safety Class, a course that spanned two 4.5 hours sessions, in a small city 30 miles away from my home. As I drove home after the first night, carefully scanning for dangers to the side and ahead, and carefully keeping a safe distance from the car ahead of me, as the safety course advises), a car pulled out to pass all the southbound traffic on the two lane highway. With fear and awe I watched as the vehicle passed—not one—not two—not three—not four—not five—but SIX cars. The driver then safely merged back into traffic without having a head on crash with oncoming traffic.

The next day, I described the experience to the class participants near the start of the second session. I then asked the participants (who had revealed on the first day that the main reason they take the Driver Safety Class is because they get a discount on their insurance from their automobile insurance company, as is true of almost everyone who signs up for these classes):

“Did you learn worthwhile in this class besides that you will get a discount on your insurance?”

One participant, named Janet, something of a smart-ass (as I am one I know one when I see one, being one myself), said, “I learned not to pass six cars on a two-lane highway.” The class cracked up. It was a perfect heckle.

I waited.

Just long enough.

The participants settled down. When I had their attention again, I said,

“Jan, that is important safe driving advice. However, there is an important qualification I should add as your instructor.
“While it is not safe to pass six cars on a two-lane highway at night, it probably is OK to pass five cars under those conditions.”

I guess you had to be there.

I am not quitting my day job. Which is being a retired 65-year-old person, though I will be promoted to retired 66-year-old person in a couple of weeks.

Country Dentist

October 29, 2009

When we were preparing to move to our Puget Sound island, a filling broke and I needed a dentist in a hurry. I decided to bite the bullet, so to speak, and go to a dentist on the island. The phone book listed two dentists in the nearest small town to where our home was being built. I called one. The receptionist I talked to presented her boss and office very well, but the best day for me at that time was Friday, and that dentist closed his office on Fridays.

So I was left with Frank. I did a search for information about Frank on the web. I found one odd but promising comment on the web site of Powell’s books (the leading bookstore in Portland, Oregon.). I came across an interview with a moderately successful writer who told a charming and admiring anecdote about Frank the dentist. I won’t put it here because it has too much distinguishing detail, but if you really want to read it, email me and I will link you to it if I trust you. If a fairly successful author plugs a dentist on Powell’s Books, that’s good enough for me to give him a try, so I made an appointment. Apparently all of Frank’s patients have used him for many years, so his receptionist must have been a bit surprised to have a new patient call her out of the blue, but she handled the surprise with aplomb.

When I went in to see Frank and to get my painful tooth attended to, I met a tall, laconic man about a year younger than myself. His pleasant, competent, attractive receptionist is also a dental assistant, but I was a bit surprised to discover that Frank almost never called her in to assist him.

Unlike every other dentist I ever had, Frank did about 95% of his work by himself. He grabbed all his tools of torture by himself. When it came time for my six-month cleaning, Frank did the cleaning himself instead of using a hygienist.

“Do you ever use hygienists?” I asked him.

“Oh, yes, I have a few times, but they always have babies and move on, so finally I decided it was easier to do it myself,” he replied.

I figured if my dentist does the cleaning himself instead of handing it down to a hygienist, I am either getting the best dental service in the world, or I am living in a world of delusion.

“Did you ever work with another dentist, or have you always been a sole practitioner?” I asked him.

“Yes, I tried working with other dentists,, but it just never works out,” he told me.

He always has jazz and blues playing on a stereo in his office, and he had a large painting of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (with Roy holding a guitar) on his dental chair room, as well as an actual guitar hanging in the same room.

“Do you play the guitar?” I asked.

“Yes, but as my arthritis has gotten worse, I can’t play much any more.” I wondered a bit as his handling of dental tools seems deft enough, but I decided not to worry about it until a drill slips enough to make me scream.

“Did you ever consider music as a career?” I asked him. He said he enjoyed playing music, but the dedication necessary to be professionally successful took all the enjoyment out of it. (This is a bit similar about RG’s Mommy’s comment about her reasons for abandoning her one-time goal of being a concert violinist.)

One time he told me, “The first year I worked as a dentist, I joined another dentist in Alaska. The oil drilling and pipeline construction was at its peak. We worked 12 hours a day and charged whatever we wanted. Boy, I made a lot of money. However, when winter came I had never been so cold in my life, so I left Alaska at the end of that winter. There was no way any amount of money would compensate for being that cold.”

I could identify. One of the six high schools I attended was in Wisconsin, and I still remember waiting for the school bus when the temperature was -38 degrees. I swore once I became an adult, I would not live some place that got that cold.

“How did you decide to become a dentist?” I once asked him.

“When I was in college, I couldn’t get the classes I wanted. I noticed if you were in pre-med or pre-dental, you got to the top of the list when it came to getting classes, so I told the university I was planning to become a dentist. After a while, I actually applied for the dental school, and, to my surprise, they accepted me.”

I told Frank how a friend of mine once related the following anecdote to me.

My friend said, “My dentist was working on me and suddenly exclaimed, ‘When I think about the 18-year-old kid who made this career choice, I could kill that kid now.’”

Frank chuckled but indicated that dentistry wasn’t that painful for him.

He mentioned a wife once, so I asked, “Do you have any children?” He immediately answer in a manner that mixed a charming combination of determination, strong opinion, self-awareness, and cheerful geniality, “God No! I hate kids!”

I said his exclamation reminded me of comments by W. C. Fields such as:

Children should neither be seen or heard from – ever again.

I never met a kid I liked.

I like children – fried.

I began to put together a portrait of a person who had arranged his life fairly quite well to suit himself but cheerfully makes adjustments as he has to.

His final comment to me was, “Pretty soon every doctor and every dentist will be working for the government; it’s inevitable. Fortunately, it will be too late to get me.”

 

The Heavy Door

September 4, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My wife tells me that I am a very negative and pessimistic person. She is just as negative and pessimistic as I am, but she refuses to admit it. Every morning when she gets up, she grimly says to herself, I will be positive and optimistic.

Front Door with Inset

Front Door with Inset

It takes her a couple of hours and several glasses of tea for her determination to take effect.

 

I meant to write this story about five years ago, when our house was being built. I was optimistic, but I am finally getting around to it now.

 

My wife is a person with a highly developed aesthetic sense. It is very important to her to be surrounded by things she finds beautiful. For example, our garden is full of many nutritious food plants, but it is also full of beautiful flowers. It took four years for the garden to reach its full flowering. We are now harvesting our fruits and vegetables, which have been abundant, and sniffing the flowers, which are beautiful and provide beautiful scents.

 

When we were working with Tom, the contractor we hired to build our house, my wife said, “We will purchase the front door and bring it out to the construction site.” She said this because she didn’t want any old door. She wanted a door that represented us and our values and aesthetics.

Tom, the contractor, a very nice guy who did a good job for us in building the house, explained that we should purchase two doors: the permanent door and a temporary door. The contractor would use the temporary door during construction because it might accidentally get damaged. He would only install the permanent door near the end of the job.

We found a “door store” near where we lived on the mainland.. The large showroom includes racks and racks of doors in various sizes and designs. Many of the doors have glass or plexiglass decorative insets.

My wife, as is typical of her, spent hours studying different doors and beautiful decorative insets until she found just the right ones; a combination that would create a front door that would say “Us” to the world. We also picked out a cheap temporary door. Both doors were very heavy. Two strong employees helped load them into the back of my wife’s pickup truck.

We took the doors home, to the duplex we owned at that time with daughter and her partner on the mainland. Again, they were too heavy for us to lift by ourselves. Fortunately, some teenagers were playing football in an empty lot across the street. We asked them if they would lift the doors and put them in our garage for us. Welcoming the opportunity to show off their youthful strength, they cheerfully lifted the doors and put them in the garage. It took two of the husky young men to carry the main door.

We delivered the doors to the work site. We got our next door neighbor at the time, Tim, to help us get the doors into the truck. My wife has a bad back; it was not very safe for her to help me lift the door. I could not do it by myself.

The contractor said to take the “real door” back as he could not store it safely at the work site. It was a little irritating to drive the door back to the duplex where we lived and get my neighbor to help me unload it again.

The contractor typically worked on three houses at a time. At the time, his business was going well and he had a fairly large work crew. One Saturday morning we arranged to deliver the “real” door to the island. Terry the foreman, was supposed to meet us at the work site at 9 am.. To get there on time, we had to get up at 5 am in the morning. I arranged with Tim, our next door neighbor, to help me load the door in the truck, even though it meant he had to get up at 5 am on a Saturday morning. My wife had taken a dislike to Tim before she ever talked to him because he always had a dozen cars sitting on his front lawn, most of them in various states of assembly, dis-assembly, and repair. My wife thought Tim’s constant auto repair projects made our neighborhood look like a white trash headquarters. But, in fact, Tim proved to be a very pleasant neighbor in various ways, not least when he cheerfully agreed to get up at 5 am on a Saturday morning to help me load the door into our truck.

We loaded the door at 5 am, caught a ferry, and arrived at the work site about 9 am. The not quite finished house stood empty. There was no sign of Terry. We knew Tom, the contractor, was off island on other business. We did not have a phone number for Terry, the foreman. We sat around the work site in our truck for about an hour, extremely frustrated and irritated.

In the early days of his blog, David Rochester would write little stories about the irritations and frustrations of his life I called “Rochesterisms.” This was clearly a Rochesterism; not really a disaster, but certainly maddening.

We debated what to do. We were irritated at the prospect of making the long trip back to the mainland, unloading the door, and doing it all over again another day.

We drove the five miles back into the nearest town on the island. We stopped at a pleasant coffee shop and had some tea and pastries to console ourselves in our irritation and frustration. Having a house built is a stressful and anxiety producing activity. My wife and I stared at each other in gloom. We wondered if we should drive the five miles out to the work site just in case Terry the foreman had arrived. We decided to take the trouble.

In gloom we drive the five miles in silence. We drove down the gravel private road to the site where our house was being constructed. There was no sign of Terry the foreman.

We trudged up the driveway to our truck. Just as we got up to the truck, we saw Terry’s truck pull up.

He got out, explained that an problem had occurred at one of the other work sites. Apparently a building inspector had decided the other house did not meet code, and Terry had been forced to rush to the site and deal with the problem while his boss, Tom, was out of town.

We drove our truck back down the driveway.

Terry, the foreman, is a man of average height and build, as am I. I prepared to help him lift the door. Terry lifted the door by himself and carried it to the house by himself and propped it against the wall next to the construction door and my wife and I stared in amazement and admiration.

“There,” he said. “I’ll have the crew install it on Monday.”

My wife and I thanked him effusively, got back in our truck, and drove back toward the ferry dock, our load lighter and our hearts singing.

 

Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas

 

 

 

 

Power Mad

October 19, 2007

Winter is here. For some people winter comes with a date on a calendar. For some people winter comes with the first snow.

For us, winter comes with the first windstorm and the first power outage and the first head cold.

Last year our power went out nine times. The first outage last year came in November. This year the first outage came in October. This may be a harbinger of things to come.

We have a generator. We never have gotten it to work in a useful way. It apparently has irreconcilable differences with our refrigerator. It also had irreconcilable differences with the stereo, as it murdered the stereo. It may even have irreconcilable differences with the zucchini. If they went to battle, the struggle might be something like the battle between Godzilla vs. Mothra.

However, we doubt the zucchini will survive winter, while the generator just laughs at winter as it laughs at us. It is a multi-tasking generator. It fails at many tasks equally well.

We do have a lot of wood for our wood stove ready in the basement. We do have a lot of water stored in the basement. We have a lot of food stored in the basement. We have flashlights and portable radios. We have lots of batteries. If are forced to resort to eating the batteries, we even have a flashlight and a portable radio which can be wound up.

We have kindly and competent neighbors with a generator that works as it should, though they had to do battle with the hardware store that sold it to them before it was persuaded to work.

We could survive a disaster such as Katrina if the disaster lasted no more than three days. If it lasted more than three days, we would walk or perhaps crawl the quarter mile or so to the Kindly Neighbors and throw ourselves on their doorstep and plead for help.

After the power went off nine times last year the entire community on the island decided to focus on the problem. As with the aftermath to Katrina, the first step in solving a problem is to exercise the fingers by pointing them.

Citizens pointed out that the telephone lines are buried underground while the power lines hang in the air so trees can fall on them.

“How come the telephone company was so much smarter than you?” angry citizens asked. “When they put in phone lines, they put them under the ground. Why didn’t you put the power lines under the ground?”

The power company explained that putting electric lines underground is much more complicated than putting telephone lines underground.

The power company also provides helpful tips about what to do when there is a power outage. They say, “If you see a power line on the ground, don’t touch it.”

After they listened to angry citizens for a while, they said, “Here are some power lines on the ground. Go ahead and touch them. If power is not working, call us. You will be able to tell us exactly where the downed power line is by pointing with your very strong fingers and that will save us a lot of time in finding the downed lines. On the other hand, if the power is working, what’s your problem?”

However, the power company has been sending crews out during the summer trimming tree branches very aggressively. Citizens have been complaining about how the beautiful trees along the roads have been mutilated. I suspect these are some of the same citizens who complained about their power going out last winter when tree limbs fell on power lines.

Obviously, it would make a lot of sense to put the power lines underground, even though it wasn’t done in the first place. This would cost a lot of money.

The power company said, “If you [the citizens] will pay for it [by raising taxes] we will put power lines underground, though you need to understand if something goes wrong with a power line under the ground it will take longer to restore power and you will complain even more in the future.

“Also, you need to understand that power comes from lines and power stations off the island, and when they stop working, it won’t matter if your lines are underground.”

The citizens said, “You are a big private company that makes a lot of money. You spend some of that money to put the power lines underground. And stop making so many excuses.”

I don’t know if the general fitness and health of the people on our island is above the national average, but we may have some of the strongest fingers in our country. Except for the citizens of new Orleans, that is.

I have been working on my stock portfolio. Usually, I buy a stock and hope the price of the stock will increase. For example, I bought stock in a gasoline company. Every time the price of gasoline goes up at the pump, I am comforted by the knowledge that a tiny portion of the huge and obscene profits the gasoline company makes goes to me as a stock dividend. Although the gasoline company profit is obscene, by the time it gets to me, it is much cleaner. I believe this is known as money laundering.

There is an obscure procedure in the stock market known as shorting. Although I don’t really understand the details of how to short a stock, the basic concept is that instead of betting (excuse me, investing) that the price of a stock will go up, the gambler (excuse me, investor) bets that the price of a stock will go down.

I think I will study shorting with great intensity until I understand it. Then I will short the stock of our power company.

As the power goes out this winter, I will sit in the dark and cold next the wood stove and examine my brokerage statement by the light of my windup flashlight and see if it brings me any comfort and consolation. Then I will cuddle my wife for comfort and consolation.

And maybe call my daughter on the telephone that will probably work because of its underground lines and talk to Random Granddaughter.

2AA National Dog of Japan

September 10, 2007

The Akita is docile, but sometimes spontaneous. Careful and very affectionate with its family. Intelligent, courageous and fearless. It is very willful and needs firm training as a puppy.

When our friends S and B introduced us to Warrior, their Akita, they warned us that he would be very suspicious. He would check us out very carefully, just to make sure that S and B, his “owners” (though as with cats, it is difficult to know who owns whom) would be safe in the company of the Randoms.

Indeed, the first time we met him, he did bark at us fiercely. After he sniffed us and examined us carefully, he decided it was safe to allow us to remain in the presence of S and B.

The Akita needs moderate but regular exercise to stay in shape.

When S and B come to Washington to work on getting a retirement home site, they rent a pleasant cabin overlooking a very quiet fjord on the coast and invite us to stay with them. There’s a broad expanse of lawn, and a trail leads down to a pleasant beach walk. B took Warrior for a walk and then S and B took us out for dinner.

The next morning, when we entered the living room, Warrior again barked fiercely at us, just in case aliens had substituted impostors, but after inspection and sniffing, we once again passed muster.

This breed can be very food-possessive and willful.

Warrior’s meal time is an impressive occasion. B mixes Warrior’s food into a kind of stew and heats it up as Warrior watches carefully to make sure it is being prepared properly and to make sure it is not being nabbed by an interloper (such as us). He then eats his food with intense satisfaction and appreciation. After his initial barking and inspection, Warrior is quite friendly. One might figure his bark is worse than his bite. However, consider the following story, told to us by B:

“Next door to our house in Portland, there is another house, surrounded by a fence. A cat lives on the other side of the fence. After a while, Warrior and the cat developed the habit of sniffing noses through the fence in a friendly manner.

“One day, the cat decided to come through the fence (which had a large enough gap for a cat but not a dog to get through) to play with Warrior. As soon as the cat had came through the fence, Warrior—who is capable of moving faster than you can even see, seized the cat in his jaws. He hadn’t even started to chomp down yet, and we were able to get him to release the cat—still unharmed—but we have no doubt that Warrior had the intent of having the cat for a snack.

“The cat no longer comes through that gap in the fence.”

Warrior was a “rescue” dog, removed from the home of an elderly person with too many pets and unable to care for them properly. The animals had to be removed from the home where they lived in squalor and put up for adoption.

As with the adoption of a child, S and B had to go through a long and difficult “vetting” process to make sure they would be good parents for Warrior.

“We’re pretty sure Warrior was the ‘alpha dog’ of the large pack in his old home. He certainly knows how to fight with great skill,” B told us.

“On a couple of occasions since we’ve had him, other dogs have tried to attack him. As with the case of the cat, we’re were able to get control of him before any real damage was done, but we have no doubt that he would have killed the attacking dogs if the fight had proceeded.

“He doesn’t make a lot of noise or waste a lot of energy. He goes down low and attacks with great efficiency. He obviously knows how to fight.”

 

 

My wife and I are cat people rather than dog people. We have never kept a pet in the forty-one years of our marriage. In part this decision was the result of my allergy to cats—I can be around one for a couple of days, but longer exposure than that starts to “get to” me. Also, once we had a child, and were still working, we decided to focus our attention and energy on our daughter. As very selfish people, we realized we had only so much attention and generosity to squander.

Finally, although many pets seem to take care of themselves fine while their owners are away at work, it always struck us is as not very kind to a pet to leave it alone in an apartment all day.

We have talked about getting a cat when we both retire. Some breeds—the “Siberian” breed in particular—are said to be less allergenic than others.

However, before I take on the responsibility of owning a cat, even one touted as hypoallergenic, I would have to do some intensive testing before proposing.

Mad scientists are now bringing genetically modified “hypo-allergenic” cats to market. I’m not sure I want to pay $4,000 for a cat that doesn’t make me sneeze. I’m pretty old-fashioned—I don’t eat genetically modified food, and I’m not sure I want to pet a genetically modified cat, either.

If we do get a cat, we would have to keep it inside. We have coyotes around, and they like to snack on cats.

Although I am not a “dog” person, I have to admit I was impressed by Warrior. He would certainly keep our garden safe from bunnies, and a fierce guard dog does have its appeal out here in the country. As peaceful as it does seem out here, there are human predators as well as animal ones out here—just as my antisocial wife likes the peace and quiet of the exurban landscape, so do meth dealers and burglars and other, less restrained and less polite introverts.

But we still like cats. Wonder if I’m allergic to leopards?

 


 

 

“I was standing next the man who was shot outside the Portland building.”

One of my wife’s best friends, S, has a habit of starting dinner conversations with a shocking and disconcerting revelation. Last year, when S and her husband, B, came to Washington, in their search for a place to build a retirement home, they took us out to dinner at a favorite Italian restaurant, and after we asked her about her childhood in Sri Lanka, she spoke of seeing people burned to death in religious mob violence as a child.

After the European nuns at the Catholic school where S was being educated as a child had been withdrawn from Sri Lanka, S’ father (Catholic, but a “rascal”) had decided that a country plunging into civil war was too dangerous a place for raising a young daughter, so he had sent S to live with an older sister going to college in America.

This year, at the same restaurant, S was telling about how she and a co-worker returning from lunch one day abruptly found themselves in the middle of a downtown Portland shooting, apparently involving a drug deal gone bad.

“You always think you are going to handle the situation better than you do,” she continued.

“What I actually did was freeze. My friend tried to hide behind me, but then she decided I wasn’t big enough to provide enough protection, so she ran away.”

“In my experience, I have to practice something several times before I am able to handle it properly,” I said. “After the third time I was next to somebody being shot, I would know what to do. However, as I have not had such an experience once, I would not handle the situation any better than you did.

“What happened to the man who got shot?” I continued with morbid curiosity.

“He survived” she said. We all felt better on learning of this happy outcome. It would be a real bummer if the person who gets shot standing next to you dies from his injuries.

Follow-up to exurban savagery.

Probably the main reason I have not used a .22 rifle is that I have been following the lead and guidance of The Friendly Neighbors, who use an air rifle.

Also, apparently rifle hunting is not legal on our island. I am not sure how this can be, and why the NRA has not thrown everybody not in support of unrestricted gun use off the island into the ocean.

In addition, at one time my daughter worked in a medical research lab and had to off rabbits as part of the research. As a conscientious person, she carried out this task as directed, but as a gentle, kindly person she was distressed by the responsibility. Now, as a mom of a three year old girl, she has apparently had a resurgence of her gentle, kindly, “fuzzy bunny” self and is not entirely enthusiastic about her dad’s emergence as a blood-thirsty rabbit killer, or so her mom tells me. I suspect she would not be all that much of a fan of dad increasing his firepower.

I have been a bit concerned that a rabbit I shot be really dead, as mentioned in several messages. I move them around a bit to make sure they seem clearly lifeless, but I have been drawing the line at trying to take a pulse or detect breath on a mirror.

Although the Friendly Neighbor is big on using a scope, I have mixed feelings about it. At times a rabbit is wandering around where I can focus on it with the scope and aim at it, but often the rabbits are bounding out from under my feet, and the only chance I would have to get one of them would be to fire off a quick shot.

As I think Pete indicated, a rifle with just a sight might be more useful for quick aiming and firing. For that matter, a pistol would probably be better for quick shots at a bunny that’s visible for a few seconds. Unfortunately, air pistols don’t pack enough punch to really damage the bunny. Mrs. Friendly Neighbor indicated that her air pistol mostly irritates the rabbits. Now while it’s obvious that irritating a bear by shooting it with a pistol is probably not a good idea, I am not sure how dangerous it is to irritate a bunny with a pistol, but why take a chance?

Besides the two rabbits I clearly shot, and I think were clearly dead, I had a pretty good shot at one rabbit the same day. It bounded into the thick underbrush of the woods, but a couple days later, my wife detected a bad smell coming from that part of the woods, which we thought a fairly clear indication of dead bunny.

So at the moment, the score stands at two clearly dead rabbits, one probably dead rabbit, and several frightened rabbits. We have not seen any rabbits for a few days.

Mrs. Friendly Neighbor said to us, “After you get a few rabbits, they seem to get the idea you don’t want them around, and stay away for a while. But they always come back eventually, and you have to start shooting them again.

However, in the meantime, the zucchini are clearly avoiding any sudden moves and watching me very carefully. However, their strategy is to double in size overnight, while staying in one place.

My strategy is to take the zucchini to work on the mainland and leave them in the staff room with written instructions to co-workers to take take them home quickly and eat them at once while we still have a chance to survive their onslaught. Seems to work so far, as all the zuchinni I left have disappeared, though they may only be lurking in the corridor waiting for a chance to jump me and bring me down as a pack.