Saturday, May 26, 2007

Why We Always Keep Our Shovel Collection Up to Date

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?


de Selby said...

When our first daughter was little, we had a rat that was frozen under similar circumstances.

We didn't have the melting problem, but when we moved, we had to sneak the little package into the garbage in the dead of night.

The daughter was not prone to too much inquiry about the whereabouts of the animal, probably because she had accidentally killed it by dropping a knee on it while chasing it down, loose in her room.

I know that kids store this kind of stuff up, and I hope she takes it out on me at my funeral, and not before.

Bobby Lightfoot said...


Drop a knee, Corpsecherry!

david. said...

At least you took the time to give them each their own hole.

Ronzoni Rigatoni said...

When my favorite cat died, lo, these many years ago, I wrapped his pitiful li'l body in plastic, gently placed him in a form-fitting box, and tossed it all into a dumpster behind the local Walgreen's. Words appropriate to the situation were spoken:

"Let's get the f**k outa here!"

WW said...

Actually, dear, you're dead wrong about my feelings for BB. Afterall, he hated our guts. I respect that.

I miss that bird.

Now, Zippy...well, that was like having a hunk of cheese for a pet...

XTCfan said...

Heh ... I remember, when I first told WW that we got two guinea pigs, her first question was, "Good Lord, why?" Well, it was at my daughter's insistence, and now it's fallen to my wife to take care of them, as it tends to do in these situations. I have the same attitude about the porcine rodents as both of you do.

Unfortunately, ours are still pretty young...

Kevin Wolf said...

Other than a dog or two, who I agree are members of the family, my only other pet experience was fish. At least the boring little things did not last long and when the time came no shovel was required.

Jennifer said...

What about the dead freezer? Aren't you going to bury it?

Wakboth said...

Cremation would be better for the freezer, I think.

Say, if you have a handy waterway nearby, you could pack it with flammables and give it a viking burial!

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