Been a bit of a deathy year chez Jingo.
Not only did we lose Wonder Woman's dad, but BB the budgie and Zippy the guinea pig also went the way of all flesh, within a few weeks of each other this winter.
The deaths of these pets were not exactly earth-shattering. You don't get much love back from a guinea pig or a caged bird. Zippy lost most of my affection when he bit me repeatedly years ago while I was holding him and trying to make friends. The kids, whose pets these originally were, didn't take care of them, and the task of feeding them and changing their cages fell to Wonder Woman, who, I think, mainly regarded them as a minor pain in the ass.
BB was the first to go. He'd had a tumor under his wing, and it was only a matter of time. Now, when a budgie shuffles off this mortal coil, custom dictates that one gather the family at the graveside, say a few words of remembrance, perhaps a few (in our case) secular ceremonial words, and shovel the dirt back into the hole. This is, I suppose, in aid of attaining what the funeral industry is pleased to call closure.
Now, I think that if one of our dogs had died, we -- and the surviving dog -- would have been absolutely gutted. I'm typing this now on our bed, Wondie is napping next to me, and both pups are curled up between us. They are without question beloved members of our family, as much our children as our human offspring.
But BB and Zippy -- not so much. So these burial rituals were, how to put it, deferred. It was cold out, the ground was hard, and we had more pressing things to attend to. Wonder Woman respectfully wrapped their corpses in old towels, and preserved the mortal remains as they do at any morgue -- she put them in the freezer, to be taken out and buried with full honors when the weather warmed.
Now it's not our kitchen freezer she put them in. Please understand this. That would be gross. No, she put them in our second freezer, which we have in the garage. We keep no food in there, only extra ice and a bottle or two of medicinal vodka. I do use the freezer to store the summer's crop of fruits, but it's all bagged and sealed shut. No corpse/cherry contact took place.
In the lower part of the unit, the refrigerator section, we keep bottled water, extra milk, and beer. Last week, I noticed that a beer (a Sam Adams Summer Ale for those keeping score) that I'd brought in to have with dinner was not nearly as cold as I'd like it to be. Semi-tepid, 's what it was. Next I noticed that the cherries, which I'd pitted and frozen with sugar-syrup for use in pies and the like, had begun to show signs of thawing. A few days ago, when I opened the freezer to consult that bottle of vodka (I had a bad case of the dropsy, accompanied with the blistering marthambles, and any practitioner of medicine would have prescribed the very same thing), I noticed...a smell.
Oh. Dear. God.
Now you remember that broken shovel from earlier this week? That was my only tool for breaking ground; the next best thing I have is a gardening trowel, and it would be like trying to pole-vault with a toothpick to try to dig a grave with it. So today found me at the hardware store replacing that shovel. The instant I returned home, I raced with the new shovel to the orchard, picked a nice shady spot, and dug two holes a foot or two deep. Then I donned latex gloves, took the soggy packages out of the now nearly completely moribund freezer, walked quickly but calmly to the graves, and performed the Sacred Ritual: "GoodbyeBBandZippyyouwerenicefriends and I'M REALLY SORRY!"
So that's why, when your shovel breaks, you replace it immediately. One of life's lessons.
We're also shopping for a new fridge. Anybody know where I can get a flamethrower to sterilize the old one?