Wanda, my octogenarian neighbor, spent some time in the hospital this fall. While there, she adopted the finches of her nonagenarian roommate. The poor woman’s fear was that relatives would set them loose, and her darlings wouldn’t survive cold autumn nights, let alone winter. So Wanda took them off her hands.
But Wanda had her own troubles, including finding someone to care for them when she’s under the weather. (Her daughter-in-law suffers from ornithophobia, the fear of birds.) As much as she loved the birdsong, she started asking people if they’d “adopt” the finches.
If just so happens that one of my new colleagues, who works with impaired children, keeps plants and animals in her room. The children especially love taking care of the fish and birds. Sometimes they responded to the animals more freely than to other people.
Sadly, the male finch died. Continue reading
Wanda is my octogenarian neighbor who brings such cranky joy to my life.
She turned 86 recently.
I visited her a bit in the Michigan room* overlooking the patio and the garden. The dogs wanted to play with me, but Wanda shut them out in the yard. The old pitbull is a dear; he would be content to put his head in my lap and let me stroke his neck and ears. The bulldog pup is a menace because she cannot contain herself. She wants to taste every visitor’s hands, jump into the first available lap, and then put her front paws on my shoulders, the better to lick my face and snuffle my hair. She’ll jump down if scolded, only to run circles around everyone until she forgets and returns to being an unwanted lap-dog.
Wanda took more than one look at me and asked if my feet hurt. I assured her they were fine. (I withheld the fact that I was on crutches the last couple weeks and the fun that will ensue next week…)
She gave me a beautiful pottery bowl full of dirt and red-veined plants. Prayer plants, she called them. The leaves fold up against the stems at night.
“Thank you,” I said.
“Don’t say that – they’ll die!” This is a superstition from olden days, she says. I tell her that I can kill plants without the help of supernatural forces. Continue reading
Last night (and this morning) I was sleepless because of the dog-that-never-stops-barking and the attendant drama. The wretched creature lives on the street that parallels mine and, judging from the sound, a few houses down from mine. The incessant barking comes day or night.
Then there are the people who shush the dog. One of them is a middle-schooler with the voice of a disgruntled bullfrog. “Shuuut uupp!” he croaks. It’s bad enough during the day, but after dark I want to throw a brick at him. Preferably a brick still attached to a wall.
(No, I don’t think he’s part of the Middle School Mafia. I’m just a morning person, which means I become a homicidal maniac when someone prevents me from sleeping.) Continue reading