Dear Rachel, Dianne is Squirrelly

Ten years ago, I was in the Backus Hospital waiting to bring my newborn home for the first time. I showered, did my hair, and put on some makeup for the first time in days. It was then Rachel's turn. All alone in the hospital room, I unpacked the outfit that I had chosen for him/her (I didn't know what she was until she was born, so I packed a neutral color outfit for the baby so that no matter what it was, I would be all set.) I laid the outfit on the bed. The nurse brought her to me, all nice and swaddled, as only nurses in hospitals can do. Of course, you don't find out how talented they are until you bring your baby home and try to swaddle the baby yourself. Even though they show you in the hospital. "Yeah, yeah. How hard can it be? Wrap the baby up in the blanket. Yeah, yeah, I got it. Now, for the love of God, please let me sleep." Anyway, they brought the 3 day old child to me so that I could get her dressed to go home. An exciting and scary thought indeed. Ever so gently I unswaddled(?) the infant. I changed her tiny diaper and put on her first layer, which was a Onesie. (Did you know that the name Onesie is actually a trademark? We in the US use it as a generic term as if Onesie describes the bodysuit itself. It's actually a brand name and you can read more about that by clicking here. I guess this would be similar to asking someone to pass you a Kleenex. Kleenex is a brand name. But everyone knows that when you ask for a Kleenex, you are referring to a tissue, no matter what brand is in the box. Same thing with the Onesie.) Anyway, I maneuver her little arms and legs through the Onesie without breaking any bones. Phew. She's ready to go home now. No she isn't. It's November and it's freezing outside. Next layer. A shirt and pants suit that someone undoubtedly gave me at my shower. This outfit is new but I pre-cleaned it by washing it first, disinfecting it, and I can't remember if I actually boiled it to sterilize it or not. You know how careful we are with newborns, trying to protect them from every illness we can. This particular outfit is prepared and is germ-free. Therefore, this is what she will wear home. I dress her and she's all ready to go.

Exhausted, I pause for a moment to take a break. I call Dianne who is on her way to my house to get my van that has the car seat installed in it. Little did I know, while I was dressing the baby, Dianne's intention was to go to my house and decorate it for Rachel's first arrival home. When I called her to see what time she would be coming to pick us up, she gave me some lame excuse of why she wasn't at the hospital yet. She told me she would be at the hospital in 20 minutes.

During that time, I brushed Rachel's thick head of black hair; fed her a bottle; burped her; and when 15 minutes had passed, I started getting her bundled up for her first trip outside in the elements. First I put a hand knit sweater on her, talking to her and saying stupid little things to her in babyese, "We're going home now. Yes we are. Wait till you see where you're going to live. You're going to love it there. And if you don't, in 18 years you can move out. Okay? Okay. And Mia is there and she can't wait till you get there. Yes she is. Remember Mia? The cute little blond girl that came to see you 2 days ago to visit? Yes, her. Yeah, she's in school right now, but she'll be home later..." I look at my watch. "Dianne should be here any minute. Let's get your coat on, shall we?" I get her into her winter body bag (What? That's what it looks like.) I sit on the bed and wait. A half an hour goes by. No Dianne. I pack up all my things into my luggage and move my gift baskets that I received closer to the door. One less thing to do when Dianne gets here.

More time goes by and still no Dianne. I unzip the baby's jacket because I'm sure she's baking in all the layers of clothes that I have put her in. I call Dianne on her cell phone. (No texting back then. Hadn't been invented yet.) I get her voicemail. "Where are you? We're all ready and waiting. Call me." I hang up. I strip Rachel down to change her diaper again because now it's been an hour since I changed it last. In the middle of dressing her back up, the hospital phone rings. I pick up.

"Hello?" I say, praying it's not Dianne telling me her car broke down or that she's been in an accident. Not because I particularly cared at that moment, but rather because I can't stay another night in the hospital. The hospital rules are worse than a hotel. Their check out times are strictly adhered to. All I could picture was Rachel and I sitting out on the curb in a wheelchair in the cold with nowhere to go. "Welcome to my life, Rachel!"

"Hi, it's me." Oh good, it is Dianne and at least she's alive.

"Where are you?"

"You're not going to believe this."

Okay, I'm no mind reader, but I can tell by the nervous, squirrelly nature of her voice that this isn't going to be good.

"What?" I ask, not sure I really want to know.

"Well, I'm in the house, and..."

"And, AND??"

"And there's a squirrel in here. And it's running around frantically."


"I opened the garage door and came in and saw Darby staring at something. (Darby was my first useless Persian cat. Useless, I tell you! They're all useless!) Then, all of a sudden, a squirrel jumped across the room out of nowhere. I am FREAKing out."

"Dianne, if you didn't want to pick me up from the hospital, you could have just said. I could have asked someone else. You don't have to make up a story--"

"No, Sharon. I'm not kidding. There's a squirrel in here. Do you know how I can get it out?...Oh my god, he just jumped up on the aquarium and knocked down a vase. (Expletive.) What do I do? I'm taking Darby and getting out of here." They go outside and Dianne puts Darby in my van. Useless cat! She should have just set him free.

"Well, I can't very well bring the baby home with a squirrel in the house, now can I? I'm not Tarzan."

"What do I do???"

In walks a nurse who gives me a look of "Why are you still here? We need this room for another patient." I quickly blurt at her, "There's a squirrel in my house and we don't know how to get it out." "Sure you do. I hear that all the time" and looks at her watch. Seriously, this all was like something from a bad, poorly written sitcom.

"Dianne, can you trap it in a box or something?"

"No. I'm not going back in there. Every time it sees something move, the thing freaks out and jumps to another location. I called your sister-in-law to come help and she's bundling up the kids to come help me get this thing out of here."

"Have you tried calling animal control in Ledyard?"

"Yup, they don't handle it. They told me to call a wildlife trapper, which I did, and he said to open all the doors so it can run out."

"Did you try throwing something at it?"

"No, it's breaking stuff every time it moves, runs, jumps. Oh wait, I hear Gary. I'll call you back." She hangs up on me.

Gary was my next door neighbor who was quite used to "the city girls next door". When I first moved into the house, in the first month, I was raking leaves and came upon a gargantuan garden snake. I dropped my rake and went screaming to him next door for help. He came over, and upon looking at it, laughed at me. It was no bigger than a pencil, but in my mind, it was a python. Gary whisked it away on the rake to his own yard saying it's good to have them around, they eat mice. "Have at it, Buddy. He's all yours!"

So when Dianne came running over to him screaming there's a squirrel in the house, he wasn't surprised. He picked up a fishing net that happened to be lying in between our two properties. (Why was it there? Who knows.) He came in and assessed the situation. He tried to catch it in the net but couldn't. The squirrel jumped off the top of the aquarium and headed out. Its first attempt to get out was unsuccessful, slamming itself into the glass that surrounds the front door. A second or two later, after he came to, he found the opening and ran for his life out the door, leaving a trail of devastation behind him. Did you know that a frightened squirrel defecates and urinates everywhere?

Meanwhile, back at the Backus, I had disrobed Rachel, fed her again, and stalled for time. I was exhausted and just wanted to lie down. But I didn't know when the squirrel situation would be resolved or what time my ride would be there to pick me up. It could be any second or the next day. I had no way of telling. So all I could do was to sit and wait, and hope that security wouldn't come and kick me out.

It all worked out in the end. Dianne came to get us and we all made it home safely. Although, I must admit, I was quite skeeved upon bringing my newborn baby into a rodent-filled, possibly rabid environment. But alas, I succumbed to bringing her into the house, feeling she was safe within her sterile clothing that would protect her from anything. And my house got the Clorox treatment by Dianne in an effort to clean up the squirrel dung.

Now that would be a good story all unto itself, right? And I could stop there, but guess what? There's more!

File this one under "Strange, but true".

This weekend was Rachel's 10th Birthday. It's hard to believe that 10 years ago this weekend, I was in that hospital giving birth to my beautiful daughter. To commemorate the day, I decided to throw her a house party again this year with her friends. (Because last year's slumber party wasn't enough. The mind is kind, in that, it helps you to forget the pain. Clearly, this is what has happened in my case.) Anyway, unlike last year, I decided to have an outdoor party this time. I'll tell you all about that in my next week's blog. But for this blog, you just need to know that it was going to be outside.

I live in a forest. At this time of year, all the leaves have mostly fallen and it's an incredible amount of work. So in preparation for the party, some leaves had to be raked up off the driveway and the decks where the party would take place. The day of the party, which by the way was Rachel's actual birthday, Dianne was outside raking the deck when Rachel came in the house and said, "Mom, Dianne said you need to come outside right away."

"Oh great, now what?"

I walk outside to find Dianne frozen in her tracks standing on the deck.

"Oh brother, what is it?" I'm thinking a bear? a snake? a dog? (If you know Dianne, you know she HATES dogs and that's something that could paralyze her if one approached her unexpectedly.)

"Come here and look at this," she calls out to me.

I walk up on the deck to find a garbage can laying on its side. Just outside of the garbage can is a puddle of water. The garbage can had been collecting water in it for the last few months since the summer, and now the water was all over the deck, along with some wet leaves scattered around it as well. Upon further investigation into the leaves, there, lying lifeless, was a perfectly intact squirrel that had obviously drowned at some point in the garbage can. It looked like it had been frozen or stuffed by a taxidermist.

"It's dead. What's the big deal? What do you want me to do with it?" I said. I'm no longer the "city girl" I once was. I can even kill spiders with my bare hands these days. You just get used to country living after a while. Anyway, all skeeved, Dianne says she can dispose of it if I just stay outside with her while she does it. I guess she needed me there just in case through some divine intervention the thing comes back to life. She goes and gets a shovel to use to discard it into the woods. But as she's doing it, I remembered the above story and it occurred to me that, 10 years to the DAY almost, we were dealing with yet another squirrel story revolving around the birth of Rachel!!! How weird is that? At no other time do I have squirrel stories!

Not only that, but it was a perfect photo op for this blog! "Dianne, stop right there while I get my camera!"


I can't (and don't) make this stuff up!

My Kaneclusion: I'm not sure which one has the curse with squirrels, Rachel or Dianne? But I do know that from now on, on Rachel's birthday, November 6th, I will have a heightened sensitivity to where squirrels are...especially if I'm driving in the car with Dianne. That'll be the next thing.


Dianne, the Squirrelenator. said...

Okay, I prefer to think that this was the same squirrel, 10 years older but just as dumb and that this time, I won. With my luck, its family will seek revenge on Rachel's sweet sixteen.

Anonymous said...

I am in a state of hysterics! I have tears rolling down my face from the laughter! Haven't laughed this hard since...well, since I don't know. You are an extremely talented writer--vivid descriptions and great timing. I also love the running stream of consciousness. Can't wait to read another!