Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hokie, Hokie, Sittin' in a Tree

HokieTree"Superior Tree"

"Good Morning. My name is Bibb Edwards and I have a problem with a tree."


"And a cat."

"We do that. Where do you live?"

Thus began the rescue of our cat Hokie who had been missing for three days. Our neighbor rang our doorbell this morning to say that a cat matching Hokie's description was in a tree in the woods behind a house near the practice putting green, about a half mile from our house. My wife, who was headed out the door to work, drove by, confirmed the cat was our Hokie, and called me to commence rescue operations.

Once I saw Hokie and the tree I knew it was not going to be easy. He was higher up than any conventional ladder could reach, probably 40 feet. The couple living closest to the constantly meowing cat had tried for days to get him to come down on its own, with no success. They had called both the local animal control officers and the fire department. No help. Hokie was cradled, as you see above, where three branches spread from the trunk. There was no place as secure within reach. And no easy way up or down.

After it occurred to me that I had a tree problem as well as a cat problem I went home to consult the Yellow Pages. With the largest ad on the TREES page announcing 24 hour emergency service, I called Superior. After the exchange above the gentleman took my number and said someone would call me back in a few minutes. Unlike most of my experiences with local contractors, within 20 minutes Joe called me. Within an hour he was climbing up the tree after Hokie.JoeSuperior

Hokie was having none of an easy rescue. Throughly freaked by this time, Hokie fled out on a limb. Joe climbed to the top of the tree, secured a line to his harness, and - thus supported - made his way along the branch toward Hokie. When he was almost in reach, Hokie jumped to the top of a smaller adjacent tree and began a semi-controlled descent. About fifteen feet from the ground the cat and the tree separated. Yes, cats do land on their feet. At least this one did, flattening out like a flying squirrel along the way. In this case the feet kept moving and Hokie disappeared at a very high rate of speed through the underbrush.

I thanked and paid Joe and as we left we spotted Hokie headed in the direction of our house. I stopped but Hokie was not having anything to do with me either. So I went home, reported the morning events to my wife, and waited for the cat to appear on the porch. He did, about 20 minutes later. There he tried to make up for lost dinner times, eventually wandering back into the house and up on my lap.

Thanks to the unbelievably fast, friendly and competent folks at Superior Tree and Hauling. Even though I was lucky they had a crew nearby on another job, Joe went above and beyond - so to speak - and was very nice about it as well. He said he had two cats at home.

And Hokie, I am docking your allowance for about 35 years. Good to see you back.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Way We Were

If you have an email address, and are of a certain generation, you probably have received at least one. Always forwarded, usually in bulk by a friend about the same age, these emails list things we should remember more or less fondly from our childhood that speak of simpler yet better times that these-young-folks-today will never "get."

Sometimes the theme screams WE SURVIVED, as in growing up not having child-proof medicine bottles, motor vehicle seat belts, or product safety warning labels on every damn thing. We remember when tobacco was not bad for you (also) and when do-gooders where not always trying to protect us from ourselves. We were tough, ran with scissors, snacked on lead-based paint, and turned out OK, not like these over-protected wimps today.

Others are lists of simple low-tech toys and amusements that brought us joy, usually compared favorably with expensive modern electronic gismos that young folks today might as well implant. "We didn't text message, we passed notes!" WE HAD FUN ANYWAY, PROBABLY MORE! these lists assert.

A third type of list references artifacts from our childhood which are only found today in antique stores and attics: 45 rpm records, roller skate keys, milk bottles, black & white TVs, rotary dial phones, and on and on and on. These lists evoke both nostalgia and I KNOW WHAT THEY ARE AND HOW THEY WORK AND YOU DON'T BECAUSE I WAS THERE AND YOU WEREN'T, YOU UNFORTUNATE DUMB ASS.

A variant are the growing up/getting older lists. These poke fun at things we used to do, as in 25 SIGNS THAT YOU HAVE GROWN UP
1. Your houseplants are alive, and you can't smoke any of them.
2. Having sex in a twin bed is out of the question.
3. You keep more food than beer in the fridge.
4. 6:00 AM is when you get up, not when you go to bed.
5. You hear your favorite song in an elevator.
6. You watch the Weather Channel.
7. Your friends marry and divorce instead of "hook up" and "break up."
8. You go from 130 days of vacation time to 14.
9. Jeans and a sweater no longer qualify "dressed up."
10. You're the one calling the police because those %&@# kids next door won't turn down the stereo.
11. Older relatives feel comfortable telling sex jokes around you.
12. You don't know what time Taco Bell closes anymore.
13. Your car insurance goes down and your car payments go up.
14. You feed your dog Science Diet instead of McDonald's leftovers.
15. Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt.
16. You take naps.
17. Dinner and a movie is the whole date instead of the beginning of one.
18. Eating a basket of chicken wings at 3 AM would severely upset, rather than settle, your stomach.
19. You go to the drug store for ibuprofen and antacid, not condoms and pregnancy tests.
20. A $4.00 bottle of wine is no longer "pretty good shit."
21. You actually eat breakfast food at breakfast time.
22. "I just can't drink the way I used to" replaces "I'm never going to drink that much again."
23. 90% of the time you spend in front of a computer is for real work.
24. You drink at home to save money before going to a bar.
25. When you find out your friend is pregnant you congratulate them instead of asking "Oh shit, what the hell happened?"

(thanks Wyc) or the indignities we are beginning to face as a result of aging. Many of these have to do with creaking joints, the digestive system, the effects of gravity, hair, soft things getting hard and hard things getting soft, hearing, CRS, and sex. In deference to my more sensitive readers - mainly my daughter - I will skip the graphic details. The curious might try Suddenly, a site I found doing research for this post and will probably not visit again, ever. GETTING OLDER IS NOT FOR SISSIES! WIPE THAT SMIRK OFF YOUR FACE - YOUR TURN IS COMING:):):)

Finally, at the bottom of many of these lists is a "message." These are the least amusing parts as they frequently promote a right-wing agenda that imagines a past better than it really was for most of us and ignores anything resembling progress over the past 50 years - especially for other than well-to-do white men who have their metal drivers, Viagra, and tax breaks. Usually blame is directed toward someone or some thing other than themselves (usually our politicians or governments) for todays ills. Pick your ill. IF WE HAD MORE PATRIOTIC, GOD-FEARING, RED-BLOODED AMERICANS - REAL MEN AND REAL WOMEN LIKE ME AND MY FRIENDS - ACTING LIKE GOD AND I KNOW THEY SHOULD, WE WOULDN'T BE IN SUCH A MESS TODAY. ANYBODY SEEN MY FLAG LAPEL PIN? While some of the ideas contained therein may be worthy of discussion, they sure do ruin the mood.

You just knew this post was heading somewhere, didn't you?

Just in case any of you thought these lists were unique to the internet and our generation's most perfect youth, I present to you a document I found going through my late mother's effects. I suspect it was given to her at one of her high school reunions.1937
This from a generation that grew up during the Great Depression and as young adults bore the brunt of WWII. It seems our generation is not the first to seek comfort in a selective reading of the past. Damn. One of my mother's generation, Simone Signoret (1921-1985), was right, "La nostalgie n'est plus ce qu'elle etait."

May I humbly suggest to my daughter's generation it is never too early to start gathering up material for your own lists. I can't wait.