14 February 2017

The Agitated Mole…Er,Bull. A True Story


You don't have to go to Kolkata to experience life and drama.

Tonight, and for the first time in 15 years of living up in the country, I got my first Emergency Call From The Washington County Department of Public Safety. Like most people, I rarely use the landline anymore or even hear it ring.

But my ears perked up when phone rang tonight, even though it was in the other room. "Please don't hang up," said a voice, "this is an important call from the Washington County Department of Safety." There was a pause and I was listening, ears up just like the donkeys. I did not hang up, and would not.

I admit, I was expecting a report of an escaped convict in our neighborhood, or a request to be on the lookout for some of those bad dudes I've been hearing about creeping into the country, maybe even some awful crime, just about unheard of in these parts.

I was taking note of where my rifle was, and how I could keep the dogs and animals safe.  Whatever this is, I thought, Maria would hate to miss it. India probably had nothing like this.

The warning – it was a recording – said that law enforcement personnel were out by the County Barn on Route 78, confronting and now search for an "agitated mole," who got "vicious when approached."I wasn't sure I heard right, I wasn't expecting to hear about a mole, they are the most invisible and shy of creatures.

But this was exciting, the first such alert I have heard in more than a decade, and at that rate, the last one I might hear in my life.

I'm not making light of it, this mole was obviously sick, perhaps rabid.  Still, I couldn't help smiling, the officer sounded quite grave. He said Law Enforcement Personnel were on the scene.

I thought of the National Security Council in Washington, you may have heard of it, gathering to hear this message and pondering the government's options. They are the ones who worry about us and protect us.

Okay, okay, I'm sorry, I am perhaps making light of it. I shouldn't.

If you see the mole, said the recording, do not approach it, said the officer, it might be dangerous.  And he warned again that the mole was "very agitated." Call 911 immediately. As I heard this, a bunch of police cars came by, blue lights flashing, and heading towards the direction of the County Barn.

I did pause for a moment and tried to picture what an agitated mole might look like, never having seen one. Perhaps a scowl or snarl.

The County Barn – where the salt and plow trucks are – isn't that close to me, my township is pretty big.  But I wasn't taking any chances.

This was a good warning to have, I was about to take the border collies out for their last walk, and I do not want to even think about what might happen if two border collies encountered an agitated mole who had turned out the sheriff's department in force. I doubted that the mole would take to being herded. And as you know, border collies are  herding whores, they will herd anything that moves quickly, including agitated sheep.

Fate, thinking the mole is a sheep, might try to chase it, and an agitated mole would not respond well to that.

Fate would not respond well to be chased by the agitated mole either. Red is much too smart to mess with a mole, agitated or calm. He would pretend he didn't see it, he is the Dean Martin of dogs.

Just to be on the safe side, I placed a call to the National Security Council in Washington, it's listed.

I wanted to know if they were aware of the agitated mole and were planning to augment the law enforcement personnel here. I got a recording, a phone tree, listing a dozen different options. Going through the phone tree frightened me, if the agitated mole showed up, I was doomed.

If it was a true emergency, the recording said, I should 911, the very people who called me. Option 2 said the National Security Council was receiving a high number of calls at the moment, could I possibly call back another time?

Hmmmmph.  So much for my taxes.

To be sure, I pulled myself together.

I got my rifle, checked to see if it was loaded, put a cell phone in my pocket – I certainly had no intention of approaching a mole in any kind of mood, friendly or not,  but I wanted to be ready if he approached me. Or if I had to protect my dogs. I would, of course, step in front and face the mole to save them.

I went outside with Red and Fate and Red stared at me somewhat incredulously, perhaps at the sight of me with my .22 rifle pointed straight down with the safety on, as safety requires. I am very careful with my rifle, it is never pointed at any thing I don't wish to shoot.

Fate got my heart going a bit, she barked and tore off after some shadowy creature, whose tracks revealed it to be a rabbit. She did her business, and I covered them both with my rifle, backing into the porch.

We are all inside safely, and Lulu and Fanny are on guard. They have their rabies shots, and if any creature comes near the pasture, they will be stomped into donkey mush.

I can't wait to tell Maria about this, if she thinks Kolkata is exciting wait until she hears about the agitated mole, and our first phone call ever from the Washington Department of Public Safety.

But the story got even more interesting. A friend called me up when he read the blog, and he said I had misheard the call, although he conceded it was garbled. He said it was a "bull," not a mole. I played it back, and still heard mole, but I am sure he was right. Maybe we do need the National Security Council.

(I know somewhere, someone on Facebook- an outrage addict, maybe –  is preparing a nasty comment about this column, fingers already twitching, eager to relay a horrific story about a cat or dog done in by an agitated mole, and denouncing me for not taking this more seriously and for being insensitive to his loss. Our leaders have inspired me to be more insensitive, that is in fashion.)

Life is serious friend, but even when it is, we have to laugh sometimes. We just must.

Posted in General

Update. Welcome To Kolkata, Sweetheart. May You Bring Back The Stars.

Where's Maria?

People have been asking me where Maria is all day, and I'm not sure I know. We talked several times today – Dubai to Cambridge – and when I last heard from her, she was boarding a plane for Calcutta at 5 p.m. my time, or 2 a.m. her time. Her last text said she was boarding.

I got on my Flight Tracker App a few minutes ago, and it said her plane had landed in Kolkata, the time difference is about about nine hours (ahead of us), as I write this at 8:28 p.m here., it is 8:58 a.m in Kolkata, which means she's been there about an hour getting through the airport and customs (and money exchange) and finding her driver, yes, she has a driver taking her to the hotel there.

She will get in touch with me one way or the other, and she has a lot of catching up to do and meeting and greeting, so I don't really expect to hear her through most of tomorrow. I hope she got some rest, Kolkata will be a lot more intense than Dubai. She started taking her malaria pills today.

I am very happy she has landed, and we both are excited about the trip.

A lot of people thought my first posts were sad, and I suppose they were.

We mean a lot to each other, and while we never want to tie the other down, or hold us back, neither have we experienced long separations over great distances, unless you count most of my life. I never wanted to infanticize my daughter, I surely don't want to ever treat Maria like a child, she can take care of herself.

Maria spent most of the day in a Dubai hotel room after her original flight was canceled. , frustrated and anxious to get going. She should be there by now, at long last, and I don't expect to hear much for the next few days. She has better things to do than talk to me.  She said she would let me know when she got to her hotel.

She is posting some beautiful pieces on her blog.

I keep telling her emotional roller coasters are good for writers, and she is proving it. The India trip is fertile for her, it will deeply affect her life.

But enough about her, let's talk about me.

I am in a very good place today. The new plan with Cassandra is working out well, and in a day or so, it will not seem strange and I will just get right into writing. I plan to get up around 4 a.m. Wednesday and get right into my study, the dogs can come downstairs and wait for sunlight.

My missing Maria is like a dull ache, somewhere in the chest (not, it's not angina), when I am writing, it is completely gone. If I'm that good on the second day, I'll be fine for the remaining nine.

The barn cats are in the basement where I will feed them and keep them through the day. Even Fate lies still when I sit at my computer, the dogs seem to know

I miss Maria, but I am not sad any longer. I'm busy all day, and spent at night. I have a lot of good writing to do, and I want my head to be up for it. You can't really turn it on or off, it has to feel right. Maria's trip is an affirmation of us, in many ways. She has taken her life back, and I have taken my life back, and there is nothing sad about that.

The Valantine's Day party at the Mansion was the best thing the blog has ever done, and I could not be sad on a day like that.

The house is clean, the dishes are put away, the laundry is drying, the cat litter cleaned out, the living room vacuumed,  the animals are fat and happy if eager for Spring. Fate as been getting a good workout and is keeping me company in bed, she snores sometimes. She is a sweetheart and Red keeps his position on his dog bed by my side. Whenever I put my hand out, his head is there to receive it.

We are in sync. Me and Maria too. This is an exciting time, I meant to savor it, on my end and hers.

Welcome to Kolkata, sweetheart, may you bring back the stars.

Posted in General

Sylvie, Again. Lollipop And Letter

Sylvie, Again

I love the expressions on Sylvie's face, she is an individual, she dresses in her own way, like Maria. She always has a serious and thoughtful look, but she misses nothing and has a dry sense of humor. As I passed out some of the lollipops someone had sent to the Mansion, she whispered under her breath, "you are something else, Jon Katz." She never looked up, from her lollipop or letter.

Posted in General

Connie And Christy, Valentine’s Day, Friendship At The Mansion

Connie And Christy

Connie and Christy are good friends, whenever I bring Red, Connie always urges me to visit Christie next door. Christie is just back from four days in the hospital, she is feeling better. Connie and Christy can't get their wheelchairs down to the main floor, so they watch from the landing, all smiles and connection.

I love Connie's face, it shows her great character. She is looking for baby wool so she can make head caps for newborn babies at the Albany Medical Center. If you have any bab

y wool, you can send it to her care of the Mansion, 11 S Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816. Christie used to own miniature donkeys, which she loved very much.

At the Mansion, life flows like a river through the lives of the residents. People come and go, some get sick, some struggle, some die. Everyone is nearing the edge of life. Almost everyone is there because they can no longer take care of themselves for one reason or another. These are very real people, they are all of us, quite literally.

Christie has suffered a great deal this year, she always has a wide and warm smile, she never complains

I am especially drawn to the Mansion because it is a Medicaid facility, people who go there do not have a lot of money, and the staff works as much out of loyalty and love as for money, there just is not a lot of money. America keeps the elderly alive by any means and at all costs, but  nobody really wants to pay for the care these people deserve.

The staff is heroic in it's attentiveness and affection, there is a wonderful feeling about the place, given all the stress and struggle bubbling just below the service. Most people are happy there, I'm not sure anyone ever wanted to be there.

The good and loving spirits of the residents and staff inspire me every time I go there, they are a gift to me. Connie asked several times to be remembered to Maria, they have become quite connected to one another. Maria said she will write to Connie as soon as she can after she gets to Kolkata.

Posted in General

Sylvie, With Her Lollipop And Letter

Sylvie, With Her Lollipop And Letters. Valentine's Day At The Mansion

Posted in General