Omen II: Return of the Herons

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!
Ken: Ironic.

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.
Me: Goddammit!

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.

49 thoughts on “Omen II: Return of the Herons

  1. RIP Bob. And this may be the one and only time I can ever offer up my condolences to anyone on the loss of their dwarf frog. Put that ten cents in a savings account…. and by the end of the year, you might have 11 cents!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Geez those freaking herons! Well, there aren’t any around here since we’re pretty much landlocked and those birds need big bodies of water to lurk around (I think.) But, it does feel like a heron might be stalking me from afar because this entire house hunting experience has been a nightmare.

    In any case, sorry about Bob and glad Atlas didn’t eat that battery after alI. I sure hope you didn’t keep the “pee carpet” because I’m sure that would have been a total bitch to get clean.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Greco/Roman pantheon includes the Muses, the Furies, the Fates, and the Graces. Maybe your herons are a mix.
    There was a camp song I memorized titled “There were three crows”. They end up chewing on an old dead man which made great fun to sing.
    Perhaps you should have offered your dead frog as an offering to the heron Fates.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry about Bob. He lived a good, long life, and was no doubt happy with you. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a heron in person. Or an African dwarf frog. I’ve seen a lot of cattle egrets riding on the backs of cows down near the coast. Interesting relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Those herons. I had no idea they were the harbingers of doom, but clearly you’ve proved the point. I shall avoid making eye contact with the random heron from this day forward. I had to chuckle all the way through your updates, Suzanne. Though I’m sorry to hear that Bob didn’t make it. May he rest in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I had the similar experience with a Penney’s account.  But the craziness of it is nothing compared to the daily here in the US.  I’m glad my days of looking for a lost frog were over in the 70s🥴

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Have you ever considered the thought that these might be Russian herons? I think it would explain a number of things… 😉

    I am glad that you found both Bob and the missing batterie. Two less worries for you and Ken. May Bob rest in peace after his long and tranquil life. I bet Dougette was waiting for him, on the other side of the rainbow. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Bear Humphreys says:

    Well, glad Bob got a decent send-off, if a tiny bit elaborate. I would have sent him off the way the kids goldfish went, perhaps with the classic final words ‘Well, that’s him flushed, what’s for tea?’

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi! Wow! And then wow again. Great that the battery was found, but sad news the African amphibian was deceased. Odd pet, but I have friends who have a big tank and this pale amphibious creature lives there. It’s much loved. A frog that looks like a ghost.
    Speaking of herons associated with unpredictable events or things… o well. Crows are a more recognized harbinger of doom in my experience. But that’s just silly superstition. Right? About the rug if it was a real, hand woven wool rug? One remedy is to throw it on your driveway, hose it down with water, scrub with Castile soap and a soft brush…rinse and repeat X many times; was it cat pee? That’s the stinkiest. Then lay the clean carpet over a rail or on a sunny surface to dry. Sounds like work, never mind. And your sewing machine…went out the door. I got rid of an old one a year or so ago. But the chandelier you found sounds intriguing. Hmmm, I put a bookcase out on the curb a couple of weeks ago. In less than ten minutes, I saw a woman haul it off and up the block by herself. Yay! I have too much stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Since Canada stopped using the penny some years ago I guess they can’t give you anything less than five cents so it was nice of them to round it up. Although you’ve reminded me that I sometimes wonder, since you call your dollar coins “loonies”, if a nickel is a “beaver” and why there’s a sailboat on the dime. These are things I’ve wondered but never asked out loud, or even typed into a blog comment.
    Anyway I’m sad to hear that Bob decided to follow Dougette and take off. He was clearly no hoser. And herons do seem like fitting harbingers of death. Vultures and crows are too often saddled with that, but they only take what’s already dead. Herons take their prey live. Also I’m reminded of the poet Brenda Hillman who wrote,

    That the soul got to choose. Nothing else
    got to but the soul
    got to choose.
    That it was very clever, stepping
    from Lightworld to lightworld
    as an egret fishes through its smeared reflections —

    through its deaths —
    for it believed in the one life,
    that it would last forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that poem–thanks for sharing. As for the pennies, I found some old ones in a jar, because yes, we don’t use them anymore. A nickel is just a nickel unless it’s Nickelback, and the sailboat on the dime is called The Bluenose, a very famous ship. We also call our two dollar coins “toonies”. I think I wrote once about Bordens, which are our $100 bills, but not worth as much as an American Benjamin, ha ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. So sorry to hear about Bob and the old Singer. But Yeah for finding the battery! One last thing to worry about. 2 cents interest on 8 cents is a great rate of return. Too bad they didn’t owe you more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, poor Bob. I hope he was happy for all those years. But now he’s under the rose bush where we buried our last fish. I like to imagine them having conversations, although Mishima was quite the chatterbox so I think they’re probably very one-sided!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Sorry to hear about your frog. A great resounding ribbitt to him as he hops onto that great big…wait, where do frogs go when they die? A pond, maybe? Lillypad? Wherever he goes, I hope it’s a hopping place. So glad you found the battery, too. I can’t tell you how much I worried about Atlas getting acid indigestion from it. 🙂 Mona

    Liked by 1 person

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