Menage a Quatre
Menage a Quatre
I really don't understand how Noah did it. Live on a boat on a vast sea with animals, two of every kind. Imagine the smell. Imagine the constant chore of Ham, Shem, and Japheth with pooper scoopers. Imagine the drain on the family budget, considering the high cost of veterinarians and the absence of pet medical insurance. Had Noah been able to foresee his ordeal of forty days and forty nights he might have welcomed a long sleep in the briny deep to running a portable zoo. Instead he got drunk.
These somber thoughts about the fellow in whose name the rainbow has been bequeathed to us are occasioned by recent developments in our house. I mean the arrival of two more four legged creatures.
But before identifying them, I should report on our manageable menagerie before its enlargement last week. We have a turtle, a red-eared slider, named Jimmy after the twins' friend from elementary school. Jimmy lives in his own aquatic tank in the laundry room. It's easy to forget him. But in the night hours, when silence should be reigning, he reminds us of his presence by knocking against the sides of the tank. We've had him for seven years. He'll probably outlive us... though I should think he would be out of his mind with boredom.
A few feet away from Jimmy, in the hallway near the laundry room, a couple of Russian hamsters hide by day in a cardboard toilet roll, while they compete after dark with Jimmy's knocking around by running a squeaky treadmill. We once had two hamsters, both male. At least that's what the pet store owner told us. Somehow, as if by parthenogenesis, the two hamsters multiplied into thirteen. Several homes of fifth grade students at Bugbee Elementary School were consequently populated with their own hamster havens.
We were, you see, trying to manage our own private ark according to the appropriate ZPG* rules.
Then last week our home veered in the direction of Third World population proliferation. Tippy arrived Sunday early afternoon... in less than twenty-four hours after our flight home from Paris. Henry and Robert, the aforementioned twins, had campaigned for the better part of a year to persuade a particularly reluctant grandparent (guess who) to relent and allow a cuddly pooch into the den of turtle and hamsters. While in Sarlat-la-Caneda I had retrieved Email. Most of it was spam, but two messages reported that, in anticipation of our return to the U. S., the boys had been making almost daily visits to the local puppy store. I had promised that once back home again we would think about getting a dog.
Sure. I was given about a minute and a half to think about it. The dog had already been picked out and petted and named. Tippy is a ten week old miniature poodle, weighing two and a half pounds. He might more appropriately be called Waddle. His rear end bounces back and forth when he walks, wiggling like a honey bee taking nectar from a petunia. If his legs don't grow much longer, we may ask for a refund on his papers, because presently he looks like a tiny dachshund with long apricot hair. I hope he makes it through his first few months. With his masters it's touch and go hug. He may be overcome by too much affection.
Four days after Tippy's arrival we welcomed a heifer into our home. We have put her to pasture in our finished basement main room. She won't need much feed, just a covering coat of paint and some decorative art. Henry twin was one of six students in the region whose proposal for painting a cow statue was selected. His idea, named "Cowstellation," is to depict several of the astral constellations for which the Northern Hemisphere is noted. The cow, when completed, will be auctioned off (along with a hundred others) to the highest bidder, the proceeds going to benefit community eleemosynary agencies. New York City successfully raised money with the same gimmick a couple of years ago. Our daughter Betsy, who may very well be the hand behind Henry's hand, was told she could, after doing her artistic magic, buy back the cow for a thousand dollars. You've heard of cash cows, I'm sure. Here's a fundraising program that gives it a whole new meaning.
So when and if you pass our house, peek behind the wooden fence hiding our backyard. You may just catch me with hammer and saw, building - do you want to guess what? - something that looks strangely like an oversized rowboat.
* ZPG, as in Zero Population Growth