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Friday, June 15, 2018


The many dogs of my life received simple directions.  Get as many groundhogs and bunnies as you'd like.  Leave birds and squirrels alone.  My current dog peacefully walks through the mourning doves and the robin hops out of her way.  However, my puppy is 1/2 Jack Russell.  It's constitutionally impossible for her to ignore a squirrel.

She's an old dog, so I've been without squirrels for a very long time, but the squirrels are back.  Maybe they figured out my puppy is old and can't climb trees anymore.  She's had 2 expensive surgeries to repair leg ligaments from that kind of activity.  I'm glad to see the squirrels again.  I wish they'd get the groundhogs and bunnies.  I've missed the days when my Dalmatians would bark at the squirrel and the squirrels barked back.  It was a game they played.  I think the squirrels enjoyed it as much as the dogs.

My dad had it out for squirrels.  He'd sit by his garden with his slingshot just waiting for an opportunity.  Maybe some behaviors are hereditary?  At some point he got out the .22 and cleared the trees of them.  Not the kind of guy to let anything go to waste, he cleaned the squirrels and plopped them on the kitchen counter for Mom to cook.  She gave him a memorable and scathing look and refused to touch them.

Dad wasn't deterred by Mom's attitude.  He happily whistled his way through the kitchen cupboards and banged a lot of metal things together talking about how country people would be thrilled to eat squirrel.  A horrible smell started emanating from the kitchen after a while.  It didn't get better, and actually looking at the horribly naked, splayed bodies on a platter was stomach curdling.

The house rules were to have a minimum of 3 bites of whatever was served.  Taking tiny bites resulted in being given more of the unwanted item until the minimum was satisfied with penalties.  I looked around the table at my siblings and shared their horror.  We even took extra servings of milkweed pods that day in order to scare off starvation.

Dad admitted defeat.  He didn't know how to cook and didn't intend to learn.  He left the squirrels alone after that, and I was glad to see them bouncing around in the trees unmolested.  They must've remembered the murder spree though because they left his garden alone.  Dad transferred his vendetta to bunnies.

Onto a different topic, I told a friend I hate Jane Austin, and my friend said she looooved her.  Trying to be sympathetic, maybe understand something more about my friend, self educate, or whatever, I read a couple of Austin's books.  I still hate her.  Maybe I hate her slightly less, but I'm not reading her again.  As I told my friend, it feels like interminable discussions about planning a dinner party I don't want to attend.

When I put the JA books away, I pulled out Dickens' David Copperfield.  In a way, you could say it's a lot like JA.  The depressing roles of women in 19th century England, archaic language, etc., but I love Dickens.  He's got women running off with their lovers, crotchety and interesting old people, nice people, villains, gritty and painful realities -- everything you need for a good story.  I'll have to check back with my friend to see how she feels about Dickens.

What about you?  Do you read any of these classics?  Can you explain to me the allure of Jane Austin?


  1. After reading this, your cute illustration looks like a squirrel murder scene? Nothing left but the chalk outline?
    I have a frugal friend who is an avid hunter. He says squirrel stew is a family fave - for everyone but the wife.
    I haven't read Jane Austin or Dickens. I'm very uncultured that way ;)

  2. I'm not recommending Austin or Dickens unless people are inclined that way. I'm just trying to understand Austin's allure. Don't bother to send the squirrel stew recipe either. I'm pretty sure I'll share your friend's wife's opinion.

  3. The allure of Jane Austen may be that if you're interested in history, and especially in women's life by the beginning of the 1800s, then Jane Austen's novels give you a good deal of first-hand information. It's the women who try to keep a position in society that she writes about, at a time when many families of the gentry were losing their positions because with emerging industrialism there was an upcoming bourgeoisie beginning to take the place of the landed gentry. If you like to read about the conflicts arising for those women at that time, then you will like JA. I don't hate her myself, but I like Dickens much better. He writes about the same kind of people, but also about those at the bottom of society and with him, it's more about how people try to live a life worth living. That makes him less dated than JA, I think. Well, I don't know why you hate JA, but I won't argue with you there.

  4. A very excellent summary! I'm going to send this to my JA loving friend and I bet she agrees with you. (She did talk about women's roles back then.) I didn't think about the industrial bourgeoisie, but I see it now. Thanks!

  5. I don't really read many classics any more, although I have read quite a few Dickens. It's just that their world doesn't relate to me very much, although human behaviour is the same today as it has always been. Talking about eating squirrels; in Peru it's regarded a delicacy. And I have tasted there, although I have to admit it wasn't very exciting, really.

  6. The human behavior part is what keeps me interested in Dickens. If I'm ever in Peru I'll consider myself forewarned about eating squirrels :)