B654BE92-F7EE-433B-A5F5-E3AA7123F546_1_201_aCovid kept us from spending Christmas with our kids, and we didn’t get to exchange gifts. Or rather, we did … a few days late.

Our son Gregory had business at some tribal casinos near Phoenix yesterday, so he set time aside to drive his rental car down to Tucson and see us. Since Greg had to get back to work later in the afternoon, we arranged to meet at a friend’s pizza place near Interstate 10, saving him the extra hour and change it takes to drive to and from our house, clear on the other side of town from the freeway. He brought along his family’s gifts for us, and we drove over with presents from us and our daughter Polly.

The inset photo, which I hope you’ll click on to see full size on Flickr, is a piece of art Greg and Beth commissioned for us, and yes, those are our three dachshunds, Lulu, Fritzi, and Mister B. We’re floored … what a thoughtful thing to do!

I didn’t realize another of Greg’s gifts was a thing we’ve been wanting badly, an extra-wide pet gate to keep the new dogs out of the living room. Greg told me, when he handed me the large flat box, that it contained a dog gate, but the box looked old and I assumed he was passing on a secondhand gate he no longer needed. I didn’t really look at it until we unboxed it at home. Had I realized he and Beth had given us the very gate we’ve been saving up for, the one on my Amazon wish list, I’d have done a happy dance right there in the restaurant parking lot. In fact I’m so delighted with these two gifts I can’t even remember what presents we gave him to take back to Beth and the grandchildren.

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These photos? Man. I see myself in the bathroom mirror every morning. Probably because the change has been gradual, I still see a guy with brown hair looking back at me. When I look at the photos we took yesterday I see something else. Donna tells me I’m going white, bypassing gray altogether. It’s kind of shocking … as is the fact I’m no longer taller than my son (by the way, we took pains to get the name of the pizza place in the photos so we could share them with our friend, the owner, and let him know we ate there).

Also yesterday, a few hours before the cross-town rendezvous with our son, Donna had to take the pickup truck out for an errand. She walked out to the garage, but then came back to tell me the hood open warning light was on and ask me to take a look before she drove it. This has never happened before. Donna backed the truck up a couple of feet inside the garage so I could squeeze in front and open the hood. It was dark and I couldn’t see clearly, but nothing at first seemed amiss. Then I thought I saw, in my side vision, something dark fall between the engine and the wheel well. I closed the hood and asked Donna to back all the way out. There, on the garage floor, was the black detachable chin guard from one of my motorcycle helmets.

Now how did that get from the top of the storage shelves into the engine compartment? Now that the truck was outside in the light I decided to open the hood again and take a closer look.

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There, inside the opening for the hood latch mechanism, was the answer. A pack rat. Fortunately, the only chewed wires appear to be the ones for the hood open warning light. Everything else looks okay, except for some bird seed up around the intake manifold.

Bird seed? Okay, now it clicks … I was wondering who was getting into the bird seed container and leaving the lid open. And now I realize what the dogs have been trying to tell me the last couple of weeks, wanting to linger in the garage and poke around behind the storage shelves when we come back from our morning walks. I baited our animal trap with cheese and set it on the garage floor near the storage shelves, but doubt it’ll work. Pack rats are devilishly intelligent. We’ll probably have to call in a pro, and soon … once pack rats get at a car’s wiring, repairs can cost a thousand dollars or more.

And here I thought parking the truck inside the garage was the best way to protect it from pack rats!

Oh, I forgot the stocking stuffer Greg brought for us.

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It has a motion sensor and only works when you walk into the bathroom in the dark. And it changes color. I figured it’d last until the first time Donna had to get up to pee in the middle of the night, and I was right. It’s on a knick-knack shelf in our home office now.

Don’t know about you, but for us, Christmas 2021 keeps on giving!


To make this post socially relevant, I’ll include a Twitter thread I posted about the Oregon father who, with his small children listening in, said “Let’s Go Brandon” to President Biden, who had taken the trouble to personally call him and his family on Christmas Eve.

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© 2021, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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