An Ungraceful Visitor

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is GRACEFUL

Which immediately makes me think of SWANS. Don’t they always look so graceful when they’re floating serenely in a stream?

Swans my webst

Other birds just don’t have the knack.
Duck down. Alexas Fotos


Which calls to mind an rather ungraceful visitor we had one morning some years ago.

Great horned owl.Pexels
Image: Pexels — Pixabay

On the wing, a great-horned owl can be a very graceful bird. I’ve read that the owl has a feather construction and placement that allows the predator to fly without a whisper of sound, swooping down with no warning on its prey.

Its efforts on the ground are another matter, rather ungainly, as we were to learn one day.

We’ve often heard a great-horned owl in the woods beside our yard and in the evenings we’d see one flying over the pasture behind our acreage. We’ve heard them and have seen le Grand Duc, (Grand Duke) as the French call it, many times in the tallest bare trees, surveying their domain or looking for some unsuspecting morsel of lunch. One evening we saw two owls in the treetops hooting back and forth to each other, discussing prospects.

One September we could hear a screech or squawk and decided that this noise was coming from a young owl. Then we went away on a five-day trip to visit friends in mid-September, and early on the first morning at home I let our long-haired black cat, Panda, go outside. A few minutes later I was hearing this funny loud peeping or squawk outside, so I glanced out the window and beheld a fascinating sight.

A great-horned owl chick was sitting in our driveway near the car shelter, staring toward the house with its big golden eyes and letting out a screechy sort of peep about once a minute. Fluffy and cute with its pointy “ear tufts,” this young owl looked almost white to me. Our huge black Panda, about the same size and shape, sat silently on our deck eyeing the owl with her big golden eyes.

Were they curious about this odd specimen in front of them? The way it was peeping, you could almost think the chick was lonely and thought Panda might be another owl for company. Or were they sizing each other up, wondering who should eat who? Perplexed as to what should be done about this strange white cat – or black bird, depending on whose viewpoint you took?

I decided not to take any chances, so I let Panda in and the owl soon got bored sitting there. It proceeded to make its way down the driveway and back again, snapping up grasshoppers as it went. Its “running” was quite amusing and anything but graceful — a kind of waddle-and-hop from side to side as well as forward.

For a couple of hours the owl chick stayed around our yard, entertaining us and eliminating some of the many grasshoppers we had that year. It did the rounds of our garden and lawn, flying up to roost on the clothesline post in between. We never did see it fly away, nor see it again. My husband guessed the chick had made itself to home in our yard while we were away; it must have decided not to come back when people were around.

Reality of the Thing

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is PERCEPTION

soap-bubble-824565_640I have to think of a balloon, before and after. Or what appears to be a little “planet orbiting in space” and the spot of soap left behind when it hits another object.

One day here in the office I witnessed a very small but rather amusing incident involving my cat, Pookie. My husband had been going through old papers and I ran a large stack through our shredder, filling a black garbage bag full and tying it off, ready for recycling.

Awhile later Pookie was in the office, eyeing that large bag against the wall. Did he see something on the bag that seemed to be moving, or did he simply want to attack that black monster? A moment later he pounced, claws digging into the plastic.

As you know, a garbage bag of shredded paper is mostly air, right? Between the punctures, and his own weight, there he was, hanging onto the bag that was slowly deflating under him. He looked quite bemused for a moment. But the monster, once subdued, didn’t hold his interest for long.

How many fearful “monsters” don’t we perceive lurking in our pathway, yet they end up deflating like Pookie’s bag when we actually tackle them?

A Grandchild’s Worldview

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is RETIRE

My response will be this short fiction tale about a grandpa’s morning out:

Murray’s a grandpa a dozen times over and loves all his grandchildren. He especially enjoys being with the youngest ones before they begin their school years. He regrets not having had as much opportunity when the older ones were small, but those were his working years. He’s retired now, but still in good health and can enjoy some playtime hours with the little ones.

One day he was out with five-year-old Amanda, pointing out different interesting things to her as they walked to the children’s park. As they strolled along Murray noticed a cat cross the street in front of them. He pointed it out to Amanda and said, “I wonder where that cat belongs? It shouldn’t be wandering on the street.”

“Maybe that’s the one Grandma was looking for. Oh, Grandpa, we should catch it and take it to her right away, in case it is!”

Murray was puzzled. “But Grandma doesn’t have a cat.”

“That’s ’cause she let it out. I heard her talking on the phone before and she told the other person that she should have been more careful and not let the cat out of the bag. She said now somebody’s going to know about it and they aren’t supposed to. If we catch the cat, maybe everything will be okay?”

Amanda was so serious that Murray swallowed his chuckle and gave her a comforting answer. “I’m sure that’s not the cat Grandma let out of the bag. I’m sure that one is still in our house somewhere.”

“How come she was keeping it in a bag?

“You’ll have to ask Grandma that when we get home.”

“Cats don’t like to be put in bags, do they, Grandpa?”

“No, I don’t think they do.”

“We should tell Grandma she shouldn’t do that. And cats don’t like it when you put baby clothes on them and stick them in a pram, either.” Amanda nodded knowingly. “Our kitty jumped out and ran away. Then she got all tangled up and clawed the doll dress and Mom said I shouldn’t do that again.”

“Your mom’s right. You shouldn’t try it again.”

Soon they arrived at the park and Amanda rushed toward the swing sets. Murray helped her get seated and started pushing her, thoroughly enjoying himself. He grinned as he thought about the explaining Grandma would have to do when they got home — if Amanda remembered.

“Grandpa, I’m sure glad you don’t have to go to work like Daddy does. He can only take us to the park on weekends.”

“That’s one of the good things about being retired,” Murray told her. “I can go for walks and come to he park with you whenever you come over.”

“What’s retired?”

“It means you’ve worked long enough and earned enough money that you don’t have to get up and go to work every morning anymore. You can stay home and you get paid anyway.”

“My Daddy has to go to work all the time. I told him he should stay home with us, but he says he has to work ’cause we need the money to buy food and clothes and stuff.”

“Yes, your Daddy has to work some years yet before he can retire. I worked many years, too, before I got to retire. When your mom was a little girl, I had to go to work every day, too. That’s how it goes.”

“When I grow up, I’m going work just a little bit, and then I’m going to retire like you,” she said. “Then I can stay home with my children and we can all come to the park and swing every day. You and Grandma can come, too.”

“That sounds like a great idea,” Murray agreed. Oh, to be young and so blissfully innocent!

“Wee timorous beastie” indeed!

It’s Wednesday again and Biff seems to be AWOL as yet. Nevertheless, I’ll do a Whatnot Wednesday post anyway — mainly because I don’t know what else to do with this verse-of-sorts. 🙂

The following poem is based on a real life experience…

The moon rains silver on my window
pierces the darkness of my eleventh hour,
draws thin slats on my carpet as
warm ambiance enfolds me like a cloak
woven of droopy eyelids, wool-gathering.

My book slips from my hand; sinking into
the fronds of fern casting their shadows
in dark splashes on the carpet
rubbing the rich brown of the old
grandfather clock poised to chime.

Shattering my doze like a snare drum,
the steady rustle I have come to dread.
That MOUSE again!
Intrepid raider of the cat-food dish.
Its toes scratch on the floor tile as it creeps
forward toward its goal – then I hear
that brazen crunching I detest.

It knows – I’m positive it bides its time until
some telepathy reveals to its pea-brain
when I am most vulnerable. Too burdened
and half asleep — can it hear me breathe — 
to give chase. Then out it creeps
to fill its emptiness with a cat food snack,
which it erroneously believes
has been provided for its benefit.

I will the clock to strike, to boom
a hickory, dickory, dock. A horrid shock
that causes said mouse to die of fright.
Yet Grandfather has nothing to say just yet,
I sit here trembling in the darkness
while my cat, a warm ball on my lap,
snores on, oblivious to mouse or man.
Waking, only to glance at me in peeved disdain,

when I screech, “You’re FIRED!”

In my dreams…

Cat + Mouse.K Tyl