Thursday, May 22, 2014

Scary Tales

Gabe the Zombie at Halloween

When my seven-year-old grandson was about two years old, I started making up bedtime stories. At first, they were tales about Super Gabe, who had all the powers of a superhero. When he tied his blankie around his neck, it turned into a magic cape that enabled him to fly. I made up a couple of “lessons” stories about saying “yes, ma’m” and other Southern politenesses. I made up a story about a gentle, helpful Bigfoot creature who lived in the woods next to my property.
Soon, he tired of those stories and wanted some scary tales.  There's an old, abandoned house down the road from me that was standing upright when I moved here 13 years ago, but has gradually fallen in on itself. That became our haunted house, where all sorts of ghosties and goblins dwelled, including vampires in the cellar. Down the road from that house is a boarded-up building that used to be a general store. It became the haunted store used by all the night stalkers who bunked at the shack. A rusted-out, windowless and tireless pickup truck in a neighbor’s yard became their vehicle of choice. Each time we drove by it, Gabe would whisper, “NaNa, it’s in a different spot now. They used it last night.”
Gradually, the stories got scarier and scarier. I was warned more than once by his mom, my daughter Amanda, that some were too much for his tender years, but Gabe kept insisting they were fine. I knew I had crossed the line, however, the day I told a story about the Chuck E. Cheese balloon in his room turning into a Chucky doll that ate little boys after they had gone to bed. That scared him so bad he couldn’t sleep in his room that night. His mom had another talk with me. I backed off, but gradually fell back into the “scary” mode. I think she has finally admitted defeat, because she told my brother last summer that Gabe was just like him and his sister, who love being scared by spooky tales and horror movies. Amanda can’t stand either.
When Gabe was three or four years old, one of the children’s librarians where we attend a weekly story time pulled me aside to tell me about a humorous incident at his daycare center. She had gone there to read a book to the children. It was about owls. When she asked the children, “What sleeps during the day and comes out at night,” little Gabe threw his hand in the air and yelled, “Vampires!”
That’s my boy!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

There's no place like home, even for a goat

It looks like Betsy is here to stay.

Betsy is the goat that used to belong to my next-door-neighbor, Cathy. My neighbor died last summer, and when winter came and there was no more grass in her pasture, I took in Betsy, J.J. the donkey, and Molly the aged horse. The deal was that I would look after them until Cathy’s daughter, Misty, could get a bigger place to live. Then I would send donkey and horse to Misty and keep Betsy.
J.J., Betsy and Molly 

An attempt at adopting Betsy last November failed because she wouldn’t stay here without Molly. She kept jumping the fence and going home. So for several months I kept the gates open between my pasture and Cathy’s, and all of her animals and mine roamed freely between the two. All six of them were at my barn every morning at feeding time, of course. 

It was with great relief that I took Molly and J.J. to their new home over the weekend. Misty and her husband, Phillip, have a lovely house on top of a hill about a quarter of a mile from my place. They have 30 acres that are fenced and cross-fenced. They’re working on a lean-to shelter for the animals.

When I unloaded the pair, they didn’t waste any time before sampling the lush grass in their pasture. Every now and then, though, Molly would look out over the fence and whinny. I suspect she was calling for Betsy. Donkey acted liked he had always lived on that hill.

A friend feeds for me on Sunday mornings, but after lunch Sunday I made a beeline for the barn. What a relief to find Betsy there. She has been there every day since then. I guess she considers this home now. She seems to be at loose ends, though, as if she can’t decide which horse to attach herself to. I’m sure she’ll figure it out soon enough.

Late that afternoon I got the sweetest text message from Misty. After thanking me for taking care of the animals until her family got settled in their new home, she added: “It warms my heart this first Mother’s Day without momma knowing I have her horse here, and I bet she’s smiling about it, too!”

I don’t know about Cathy, but I’m grinning from ear to ear.