Liv­ing here in a fairly rural part of Mary­land, I see things that the aver­age sub­ur­ban­ite wouldn’t encounter in a year liv­ing in a san­i­tized and man­i­cured neighborhood.

I can sit in my favorite chair and watch red foxes play fight in the back field. In spring, the tulip trees look like Christ­mas trees with twin­kling fire­flies in the night. I have stared in awe to see an eagle fly not 20 feet over where I was walk­ing my lit­tle dogs. I was tick­led when blue­birds col­o­nized my hugely expen­sive and unused pur­ple mar­tin gourds. And one mem­o­rable day I watched on as turkeys for­ni­cated on my front lawn.

live bunnies sm

Live baby bun­nies in a nest

On the other hand, I have had to boldly inter­vene when Tina Turner, a beau­ti­ful Pol­ish chicken, was chased down by a hawk who wasn’t at all impressed with my wind­mill arms and lunatic shriek­ing. I have stum­bled upon dead moles, dead snakes, dead wood­chucks and dead baby bun­nies, only to return a short time later to haul them off to the woods with a shovel to find that they had dis­ap­peared. And one time dur­ing an early morn­ing run, my hus­band encoun­tered a still­born deer in the mid­dle of our driveway.

Turkey Sex dm

Turkey sex

At 10 in the morn­ing this past Hal­loween Day a bloody-footed rac­coon walked across our front porch just between the door sill and the mat, leav­ing a pool of blood to one side and drip­ping blood down the side­walk before ambling across the lawn and into the woods.

bloody footprints 2 sm

Bloody rac­coon foot­prints by my front door

You don’t see that every day in the burbs.

Recently I was out for my run when I slammed into a force field of stench. It was just up the dri­ve­way from the house where an omi­nous band of silent black vul­tures had con­gre­gated. The odor was so over­pow­er­ing I was forced to sprint past hold­ing my nose and mouth breath­ing. My eyes were water­ing like a spigot. The smell attached itself to my clothes and fol­lowed me up the road.

No small corpse could be caus­ing such an impres­sive stink. Surely it was some­thing quite large. Maybe an ele­phant. Or a brontosaurus.

Maybe some ani­mal had taken the next step on the Cir­cle of Life ride.

Then my mind raced. What if it wasn’t a dead ani­mal? What if it was really human remains out there in the woods near my dri­ve­way? What should I do?  Should I investigate?

But maybe some­one had dumped a dead and putre­fy­ing body there and I would stum­ble across it, acci­den­tally plant­ing my DNA on the corpse and when I called the county sher­iff they would come out to inves­ti­gate and con­clude that I blud­geoned and dumped the body of a blog­ger who had writ­ten a mean review about my book and they would take me off to prison and I would be all like Orange is the New Black, let myself go and have to get a gangsta nick­name like Ugly Stretch and have an inter­est­ing but diverse new group of friends and never put up another jar of jam, although maybe I could get a job in the prison kitchen if I was really nice to the ter­ri­fy­ing Russ­ian lady in charge, but really they would prob­a­bly make me work in the elec­tri­cal shop as part of my reha­bil­i­ta­tion but instead I would get elec­tro­cuted and die young because I’m not good at fix­ing things.

My hus­band could totally deal with prison bet­ter than me.

But he wasn’t home to go look instead of me, so I finally worked up my courage to inves­ti­gate. I put on my big rub­ber boots and gloves and tied a pretty scarf around my face bandito-style. Might as well go out in style, right?

I shoed away the black vul­tures (gosh, they’re scary) and care­fully tip­toed into the woods so I wouldn’t dis­turb any evi­dence. A cou­ple of feet past the tree line I spied the enor­mous, bloated dead deer that was caus­ing the stink.

I’m sorry, Bambi, but thank you, Jesus! I am not going to prison! I’m free! I went home to cel­e­brate my free­dom with a plate of cookies.

Boy howdy. That stench had stay­ing power. It took four days for nature’s cleanup crew to fin­ish their pic­nic and for the smell to dis­perse. In the mean­time the dri­ve­way to our home looked like a more Mafioso ver­sion of The Birds.

Since I’m not going to prison after all I’m enjoy­ing the fresh air of free­dom. It feels won­der­ful not to be behind bars, to savor the quiet and shower all by myself.

Ah, rural liv­ing! I think I would be bored liv­ing in the suburbs.

 

Robin
Keep Reading

Now that I have put the pack back on, so to speak, and am blog­ging again after my year-long blog vaca­tion, I decided I bet­ter check in on those clever blog gurus. You know who they are. They’re the pro­fes­sional blog­gers who tell us amateur-hour blog­gers all the things we need to do to become big-time blog­gers as clever, indus­tri­ous and remark­able as they are.

One of the first things I noticed is that the gurus are all talk­ing about how to mon­e­tize your blog. “Mon­e­tize your blog” is the fancy way of say­ing “mak­ing money from your blog.”

(*Head slap*)

Bril­liant! I’m going to make this lit­tle Word­Press baby into a money press so that I can sit back and watch that beau­ti­ful green stuff pile up in my check­ing account while I fid­dle with pretty tomato jam pho­tos and give updates from my incred­i­bly excit­ing and col­or­ful life. Why have I waited so long to get onboard with this wealth-generating phenomenon?

So, I did some surfing—I mean, I invested in the future of my blog by spend­ing an after­noon doing research—and read up all about how to make money blog­ging. There’s a lot out there. I mean—a LOT.

There’s just one prob­lem. From what I can tell, it involves a lot of work.

To make money blog­ging involves blog­ging at least once a day—but prefer­ably more. You have to have a really unique and clever niche about which you know more than any­one. Then you have to fig­ure out all sorts of soft­ware and plu­g­ins so you can mine infor­ma­tion you col­lect from peo­ple who visit your blog. Then you have to entice your blog vis­i­tors with offers so that they will divulge their email addresses. Then you have to pro­duce ebooks and white papers and pod­casts and Youtube videos and all sorts of other stuff so that you can offer it for free to the blog vis­i­tors so that they will love you and hang on your every word and will come back to visit your blog every sin­gle day so that you can then try to sell them other ebooks and white papers and pod­casts and Youtube videos. Then when you get a whole bunch of emails of peo­ple who love you and can’t get enough of your free stuff you can roll out your sub­scrip­tion prod­ucts so that all those peo­ple will pay you to write even more stuff to pro­mote other stuff that you will write to sell.

To quote the immor­tal words of that Youtube lady, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Besides, I came up with a bet­ter, brilliant-er plan.

Wait for it!

Instead of mon­e­tiz­ing my blog, I am going to mon­e­tize my dog!


Sophie on Sophie Chair sm

I am going to turn the Papillon-driven cash flow that’s been going on around here back in my direc­tion. I am going to put Sophie to work to pay for her expen­sive home­made roast chicken thigh din­ners, $300/year den­tal clean­ings, $50/month pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tions, $40 beauty shop appoint­ments, not to men­tion all the designer sweaters, neck ker­chiefs and bling she likes to wear when she lounges around the house on my furniture.

sophie on scarf sm

There­fore, I am announc­ing the fol­low­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties to inter­act with Sophie.

Hire Sophie as Your Team Mas­cot – Sophie loves sports, espe­cially if she gets to dress as one of the play­ers. Sophie will show up at your games and bark her head off. She will allow peo­ple to pet and admire her.

linebacker sophie sm

She will hap­pily chow down with the play­ers at the team buf­fet table and prance down the field at parade time. Bet­ter yet, you can wheel her around in her own per­sonal conveyance.

sophie in garden cart

Book Sophie for a Per­sonal Appear­ance at Par­ties, Open­ings and Other Events (Just Like Paris Hilton!) – Sophie can be quite the party ani­mal. She has her own bling, but if Harry Win­ston wants to drape a few dia­monds around her neck, she will be happy to oblige.

sophie with goldfish

Buy Sophie’s Col­lectible, Lim­ited Edi­tion Paw Print – And you can pick a paw! She has four of them, so there are actu­ally four sets of lim­ited edi­tions. Col­lect all four!

Upcom­ing prod­ucts will include the inevitable t-shirts, ball caps, bumper stick­ers and more.

There will also be a Sophie iPhone and Adroid app. We are par­tic­u­larly excited about this one. The new Sophie app will wake you every sin­gle day, includ­ing Sat­ur­days and hol­i­days, at the crack of dawn with her unique musi­cal blend of snort­ing, sniff­ing and cough­ing. If you opt to pur­chase the iPhone scent-generator attach­ment, you can enjoy the unmis­tak­able eau de dog­gie fart.

But wait! There’s more!

The Sophie app will occasionally—but unpredictably—wake you at 3 a.m. to go out­side and look at the stars while it dis­plays an ani­mated Sophie wan­der­ing in cir­cles look­ing for just the right spot to poo.

You may be won­der­ing about how Sarah, Sophie’s best fren­emy, fits into this scheme. She doesn’t. Sarah hates to have her pic­ture taken. I’m not sure, but when I point the cam­era in her direc­tion she seems to think I’m try­ing to steal her soul.

Sarah Papillon

Until I get Sophie’s per­sonal web­site and toll-free num­ber set up, you can just con­tact me by email. Price list avail­able on request.

Go Sophie! Cha-ching!

 

Robin
Keep Reading

Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.

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