On Wednesday night, Ken was out walking Atlas and he came home perturbed:
Ken: I was scooping, and when I looked up, there were three blue herons just sitting there, watching me.
Me: That’s not good.
Ken (whispers ominously): I know.
You may or may not remember that I’ve written before about herons and their portentous nature. Oh, they’re beautiful, and graceful, but they are also harbingers of doom. And sure enough, this happened the next morning:
Ken: I can’t find Bob anywhere.
Me: What do you mean, ‘can’t find Bob’? Don’t joke like that.
Ken: I’m not kidding. I can’t find him. I’ve looked and looked.
Me: But that’s impossible. Where would he go?!
Bob is an African dwarf frog. He lives in a small tank in Ken’s office. We’ve had Bob for thirteen years, since he was given to Kate for her 10th birthday. Bob originally came with Doug and the two of them were presented to Kate in a tiny plastic cube barely big enough for a cup of water, so we quickly moved them into a small fishtank with fake plants and buildings so that they felt important, like small gods. We also assumed they were brothers because they fought A LOT. Then one day I looked up “why are my dwarf frogs fighting so much” and it turned out a) they weren’t fighting and b) Doug was Dougette. I was hopeful but we never did get any baby frogs. Dougette passed away a few years ago but it took a while for us to realize that because dwarf frogs don’t do much and just hang in the water rather lifelessly most of the time anyway. If I had a dollar for every time I had to tap on the tank and poke Bob to make sure he was still with us, I could have bought him a bigger tank. But now, not only is he not hanging languidly by his miniature Parthenon, he’s nowhere to be found. He isn’t in the tank, he isn’t on the bookcase the tank sits on, and if he somehow got out of the tank and fell OFF the bookcase, he’s not on the floor anywhere in the room. And it’s upsetting because even though he didn’t do much, he was a fixture in our lives and I hope no matter what happened to him that he didn’t suffer. F*cking herons.
And it was just the sour cherry on top of the stale cake that was this week, because normally, this week is THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR, which is to say it’s Big Garbage Pickup Week or, as I like to call it, Big Junk Day. Last year, you may remember that we struck gold, bringing home stained-glass lampshades, antique sleds, and vintage leather suitcases. So last Sunday, as we were putting the finishing touches on my new outdoor office/garden house, we realized that the ceiling fixture wasn’t working properly. And since we’re locked down and can’t go to any stores to replace it, Ken said something that made me love him even more—“Let’s go drive around the back roads and see if anyone put a ceiling light out for Big Junk Day.” I’m sure you’re thinking, “Right. What are the odds?” But don’t scoff—sure enough, we DID find one, a very nice chandelier, as well as a 1920s Mission Oak armchair in beautiful condition that I’m now using as a desk chair in the garden house office. It was an auspicious beginning. The next night before dinner, I was raring to go. But an hour later, I was sadly disappointed:
Me: What’s with all the tarps?! Why does everyone have so many tarps? This junk is crap!
Concession after concession, gravel road after gravel road, it was just tarps, old mattresses, and empty plant pots. Finally, we came to a junk pile that looked promising and I hopped out. Sure enough, there was a bag with a small Persian rug inside. I pulled it out, to Ken’s dismay (“You don’t need another rug to straighten!”), and put it in the truck. I was elated, but my triumph was short-lived:
Me: What’s that smell?
Ken: It smells like pee.
Me: It’s not the rug.
Ken: It’s the rug.
The bright spot of the week came when Ken got the mail on Thursday. There was an envelope addressed to me from Capital One with a refund cheque inside. It was for 10 cents. Here’s the background. A year ago or so, I was making a phone order from The Bay, a department store here, and my store credit card was declined. I was befuddled so I called Capital One and they told me that my account was $1.36 overdue.
Me: You seriously suspended my account because I owe you a buck thirty-six?
Capital One Person: Yes.
Me: Why didn’t you let me know?
COP: I don’t know.
Me: Cancel my account.
So she did, and told me she would clear out the $1.36. But the next time I got a bill, instead of it saying I had a zero balance, it said I owed them 8 cents. And I was like, Really, Capital One? You want 8 cents? FINE! So I took a nickel, found three old pennies, taped them all to the bill and sent it back. That was the last I heard for almost a year until yesterday when I got the cheque for 10 cents (which I assume is my 8 cents plus interest) with the stern warning that I must deposit it immediately. Maybe I’ll really screw with them and send it back with “No longer at this address”. Then again, if the herons keep showing up, I might just have to move.
Update: Well, several updates. I decided to give up on the old Singer sewing machine, and as I moved it out of the alcove where I’d left it, I looked down and Eureka! I found the battery we thought Atlas ate. We also found Bob, lifeless under the rocks in his tank. Poor Bob. We buried him next to Titus and said a few words about what a good frog he was. And considering that the average life expectancy of an African dwarf frog is 5 years, and he lived to be 13, he was a pretty lucky little amphibian, despite the herons.