Kent Ohio

Lil Bub Goes Postal

Lil Bub in the mail!

Lil Bub going postal!

We have posted about the vagaries of the US Postal Service before (see Theo Theokitos, Valued Feline Postal Service Customer http://wp.me/p4uyM6-I and Mr. Gregory Shreve, Official Starfleet Officer http://wp.me/p4uyM6-F ). In this post we return to the topic of the USPS, an organization that can, apparently, engender a multitude of amazing stories for us to recount. We come to you now with a new fable, an absurd adventure of misdirected packages, wandering mail carriers, disinterested postal supervisors, gracious neighbors, and a vanished internet feline.

The story begins with Joan. As you read in our last post, we are currently without a (real, live) cat. This has led to some adjustment problems on our part (including the disconcerting habit of seeing apparitions of dearly departed felines around the house out of the corners of our eyes). One particularly difficult adjustment for Joan (which we can label “cat on the bed syndrome”) has been going to sleep at night without a cat lying nearby or, preferably, snuggled close.

While it is, of course, obvious that no home should be without a cat or two or more, we have decided, for the time being, that bringing a cat into our household would be difficult. Now that we are both retired, we are traveling frequently. Just in the last four months we have traveled to Eastern Europe, South Carolina, Oregon, and the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. At this point in our lives, we would find ourselves leaving our cats alone for long periods of time.

With no real cat to comfort her at night anymore, Joan began sleeping with a large stuffed tiger by her side who goes by the name of Jade, a gift from our children years ago. However, Jade, a giant among its kind, is at least three feet in length and threatened to dispossess the bed of its other long-time occupant, Greg. When she would awake in the middle of the night, Joan would find, much to her annoyance, that Jade had mysteriously been removed from her side and placed at the bottom of the bed. A smaller bed companion apparently had to be found.

There were requirements for this new companion: portability, suitability for cuddling, softness and general, all-around, cuteness.  These are requirements that Greg, in all honesty, does not fulfill (although he claims other compensating virtues).

While trying to locate a birthday gift for our middle daughter, a felinologist at Oregon State University, we ran across a plush toy imitation of internet sensation “Lil Bub” at http://lilbub.com/ and purchased one from the site’s online store.  After holding our daughter’s plush avatar of Lil Bub, Joan decided that having one was the best possible cure for her syndrome.

We ordered a Lil Bub for her on December 28, 2014. Response to the order from the folks at the Lil Bub website was fast and efficient. Lil Bub shipped on December 30 and was expected to arrive around January 2nd. We should have known, however, that something would go wrong when we read the following message in our Lil Bub shipping confirmation:

Your Lil Bub order has shipped via United States Postal Service!

Track your package!

But, we were confident. The United States Postal Service, respected branch of our federal government, had custody of our little cat. They would take care of her, surely. Our fears were more than allayed when we read from the tracking application that Lil Bub had been delivered securely right to our front door on Friday, January 2nd as promised! Exactly at 2:43 pm! We went outside to gather her in and tuck her into bed with Joan. Except, except—she was nowhere to be found. Not on the front porch, not on the side porch, not laying in the yard, or on the back stoop. She was gone, vanished.

Delivered! (or not?)

Delivered! (Or not?)

Thinking she might appear miraculously over the weekend when our mail carrier discovered her fallen behind a bag in his truck or neighbors discovered her mislaid on their front steps, we waited. And then we waited some more. Finally on Tuesday, January 6th Greg drove hopefully to the Kent, Ohio Post Office to inquire about our wayward feline.   Once there he waited some more.

Here Greg must digress and indulge in a small rant. The Kent Post Office is like the anteroom to Hell. Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here. There is almost always a wait to buy stamps, ask a question, or procure meaningful postal service of any kind. The wait is engendered by some sort of local policy that prevents the Postmaster from staffing all three of the postal service counters at the same time. One is always closed, even when the line of customers reaches back to the doors. But, as said, this is a digression. We return to the main narrative.

After an unnecessarily long wait (45 minutes according to the time stamps from text communications between Joan and Greg), a postal clerk shunted Greg to a supervisor with the words “you’ll have to talk to a supervisor about that.” The supervisor (who shall remain nameless, and deservedly so) deigned to appear after another unnecessarily long wait. He took the tracking information, disappeared again for a while and then returned to indicate that “according to scans” (apparently mail carriers have to check in during their rounds and indicate where on their route they are at a particular time) the mail carrier had not been on North Prospect Street where we reside at the time in question, 2:43 pm. He had been on our street some two hours earlier. This begged the important question: where was Lil Bub actually delivered? The supervisor had no answer, offered to quiz the mail carrier as to Bub’s whereabouts, and said that if she didn’t appear in a few days to submit a postal claim. Greg left with little hope of any resolution.  The postal claim might (or might not) produce a refund but would most likely not produce the missing cat!

The next day, while blowing snow off the sidewalk, Greg happened to see the mail carrier and raised the issue of the missing package. The mail carrier claimed no specific knowledge and said that the supervisor had not spoken to him about the misdelivered package—but did say, vaguely, that he “might have seen a note about it.”  The carrier did say that at 2:43 pm he was most likely on Park Avenue, the next street over. Greg asked him to look for the package but noted a distinct lack of commitment for resolving the problem in the carrier’s response.

Then Joan, the one with the memory in our family, brought it to our attention that several times in the past mail had been misdelivered to a house with the same number as ours, but on another street, Chestnut. Maybe the package was there? With hope in our hearts we went to that house and knocked on the door. No packages visible. No answer to our knock.  We were stymied again.

Another several days passed. Finally, about a week after the supposed delivery, we decided that Lil Bub had gone postal and disappeared forever. Greg ordered a replacement Lil Bub, this time from Amazon since The Bub Store online was temporarily closed for revamping. Our plush would appear, as scheduled, two days later on our doorstep (United Parcel Service) with no problem. The saga of Lil Bub was over.

Or so we thought.  On Sunday January 11, about nine days from the botched delivery, we decided to go grocery shopping. We turned out of our driveway and proceeded to the intersection of Prospect and West Main. We turned right. A car following us turned right. We went down to the next street, Chestnut, turned right and decided to take another quick look for our missing package. The car following us turned right with us. We passed the house where we suspected our package might be, slowed down, looked, but saw no one at home. We then proceeded to turn right on Bryce. The car behind us turned right on Bryce. Quick on the uptake, we realized were being tailed! Several worst case scenarios flashed through our minds.

Greg asked, “What is that car doing?”

Joan replied, “He’s pulling alongside, let him pass!”

Greg stopped the car, suspicious and wary. The car behind us pulled alongside and then stopped in the middle of the street. For a brief moment puzzled glances were exchanged with the stranger. The stranger then rolled down his window and asked:

“Do you live at 167 North Prospect?”

Still puzzled, we nodded in the affirmative.

“I think I have something of yours.”

He exited his car and handed a package containing one plush Lil Bub in through the window and into Joan’s waiting arms. She had indeed been delivered to the house that Joan had suspected all along, but to the rear of the house and not the front. We had knocked on the wrong door earlier. Lil Bub’s savior had thought the package was his daughter’s and had put it aside until she came home after the New Year. Mystery solved (although why this never occurred to our mail carrier is beyond us).

Lil Bub came home with Joan. That evening her twin, the replacement Lil Bub, also appeared. We now had a surfeit of Lil Bubs. Interestingly, this overabundance of Bubs seemed not to bother Joan at all. Quite the opposite.

Both now reside in and on our bed and have been renamed Lille (Norwegian for “Little”) and Katt (Norwegian for “Cat” in honor of Holly Golightly’s feline friend). All is right with the world. What was lost is now found, thanks to a gracious neighbor and good fortune. No thanks to the United States Postal Service and our local Post Office who had, quite obviously, been content to let Lil Bub go postal.

We encourage you to visit Lil Bub at http://lilbub.com/ to read about this real-life precious cat. A portion of all purchases at The Bub Store goes to a fund for special needs pets. It is a site worth supporting.

Advertisements

Empty Nest

The Shreve family as it was, a long time ago.

The Shreve family, as it was about 1991-1992, at Grandpa and Grandma Nelson’s home in Pittsburgh.

Our first daughter, Jessica, had a fierce independent streak (as, in fact, do all of our children). She struck out on her own pretty early, renting her own apartment and working while going to school. Our middle daughter, Kristyn, followed a few years after, also wanting to live in her own apartment. Her younger brother, Justin, went with her. They lived together in their first apartment on the lower floor of an older home on Harris Street in Kent (Justin’s first cat, Harris, commemorates their first stop after leaving home).

After that, there was a succession of Kent and Stow, Ohio apartments for all of our children. They will always remember their first forays into independent living: Lake Street (an attic garret murderously hot in the summer), Park Street (with the odd layout and marauding squirrels in the walls and ceiling), West Main (with the drunken frat boys) and Ravenswood (with Noah’s flood in the parking lot during downpours). During the course of the last decade, they all left home and never returned for more than a few temporary weeks at a time.

Yet they were all nearby, close to home, just a short drive away or a quick walk around the block. They would stop by whenever they wanted to, opening the back door with their keys and shouting “Mom, Dad, where are you?” There were raids on our food pantry, expeditions to borrow this, that, and every other thing one could think of. Sometimes, there were impromptu earnest discussions in our family room about future plans and current problems, romantic, educational, and financial.

They were out of the house, but they were still here. Close by and within reach. They were independent, but still (sometimes) needing our advice, our experience, or, simply, our skills with cooking, plumbing and sundry repairs. And, of course, Mom and Dad, are the most indispensable resource of all when packing up and moving.

Kristyn, the middle child, was the first to move away from Kent, where she had lived since she was two. A couple of years ago she moved to Oxford, Ohio to attend graduate school at Miami University (Miami of Ohio to you Floridians!). We bought a modest A-frame on 3 acres near there as a summer house, and she and long-time partner Anthony lived there in the midst of the trees and leaves for a couple of years. They were four and a half hours away, but still, on Father’s Day or Mother’s Day or on our birthdays she would appear, a welcome smiling surprise, home for the special occasion. The best gift a Mom or Dad could desire. Her siblings were appropriately mum about her visit, which, most likely, they had helped her plan.

Greg understood all along that there would come a day when the family would change again, perhaps dramatically. Greg had left home for college in 1968 (moving to Arizona from Pittsburgh), and after a single summer home in Pittsburgh in 1969, never lived at home again. As an Army brat who lived in 21 places in 18 years, he understood well the impermanence of house and home. Joan, on the other hand, had lived in the same home for 15 years and left it permanently only when we got married. It was her concept of home we built upon and created for our children in our stately Colonial Revival on Prospect Street in Kent. It was her sense of stability and permanence that made that spacious house a home. Our children knew that. They know that.

A few weeks ago, on the 8th of August, we loaded a POD with the accumulated belongings that three twenty-somethings had accumulated during their apartment years (more than they thought, for sure). Then on August 10, Kristyn, Tony and Justin, the New Oregonians, loaded their cars with what remained, and gathered some good friends for a road trip. They drove away across country, taking the Northern route to the West, to their new homes in Oregon. Kristyn was to accept a doctoral fellowship at Oregon State University and Justin, well, as a software engineer who works from home, he went with her because he could. Because he was born with a wanderlust and could now finally indulge it.

When they drove off that Sunday morning, for Albany and Lebanon, we knew that something had changed, irrevocably, finally. The nuclear family, Joan, Greg, Jessica, Kristyn, and Justin, was no more. For a few years we were a wobbly little solar system with its center on Prospect Street. They were satellites, planets revolving around us, first near, then a bit further away. But, now, two of them have escaped the orbit entirely and gone off to (what seems to us) the Uttermost West. Only Jessica, the oldest, now also finally in her own home with her husband Patrick and no longer in apartments, remains nearby. Still, even she has recognized that when her siblings left for the Pacific Northwest something fundamental had shifted.

They, none of them, will ever come home again. Yes, there will still be visits, holidays home. Special occasions spent, all five of us together in a house well-remembered and well-loved. But this is our house now. Not their house. They have their own homes, with lawns to tend, flowers to grow, woodwork to mend, and blank walls to decorate with the trappings and mementos of their own lives. Their future opens up within another set of walls and under other roofs. They’ve left our embrace and flown the nest, up high and away, away, and away.

The “Girls” of Alpha Chi

Alpha Chi Omega, Gamma Lambda Chapter

Alpha Chi Omega, Gamma Lambda Chapter

Many older homes accumulate interesting histories, and ours is no exception. Our 1916 Colonial Revival, rapidly approaching the century mark, has housed a rubber company magnate, a Bell Telephone executive, and the owner of a car dealership, among others. But perhaps the most interesting occupants were the “girls” of Alpha Chi Omega.

Although the house isn’t on “fraternity row” on East Main Street closer to the Kent State Campus, and is, in fact, on the other side of town, the home had two appealing qualities that enticed Alpha Chi Omega’s Gamma Lambda chapter to call it home for thirteen years. The house is quite large and, as is well known around town, has a sizable pool in the basement. Yes, the 20 by 30 foot pool is literally underneath the dining room floor and is accessed by going down the basement stairs. When we say we have water in our basement, we actually mean it!

Alpha Chi Omega moved into what is now our home in 1959; they had to make some immediate modifications to accommodate the sorority lifestyle. The former maid’s quarters (a small, separate apartment on the first floor) was converted into living space for the sorority’s housemother. A “triple shower” was installed in a second floor bathroom, a large shower enclosure with three showerheads. Of the four bedrooms on the second floor, one was set aside for the sorority’s President and Treasurer. Two other bedrooms were set up as quads with room for four occupants. The room that is currently our master bedroom, a fairly large chamber, was outfitted to accommodate eight girls. The large, finished attic was set up to accommodate as many as six more (no doubt the new pledges!).

The Kent State University Chestnut Burr yearbook from 1959 reported that “Gretchen,” Alpha Chi Omega’s Model A Ford car took a “backseat” that year “as the girls concentrated on their newly purchased house with its heated, indoor swimming pool.” Pool parties were apparently one of the major perks of living in the house. Having a readily accessible swimming pool also paid off handsomely when the sorority won first place in the campus intramural swim meet in 1968.

In 1972 the sorority sold their spacious home to Robert W. and Katherine B. Hart, and it eventually passed to us seventeen years later. But the house still bears evidence of their long occupancy. The large, built-in linen cabinets still bear labels for “single” or “double” sheets, “mattress covers” and the like. Initials are still deeply carved on a support column in the attic; one column bears the mysterious name “Weddy” on it. At one time we could still see the sorority’s signature letters carved on the trunk of an old English copper beech planted in our yard (see our previous post, Roots https://sixtysixtyblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/roots/).

The Gamma Lambda chapter of Alpha Chi Omega disbanded in 1973; we can only speculate on the reasons. Perhaps the sorority was a victim of the changing times when customs and conformity were being challenged.

On Tuesday, July 19, 2005 thirty-two Alpha Chi Omega “girls,” now mature women, returned to visit the home they had once lived in. They were in Kent for a Gamma Lambda reunion, their second reunion in forty years.  The reunion coordinator had contacted us about visiting their old home, and we agreed. The sorority sisters arrived en masse, visibly excited. We had expected to give them a group tour of the house, but as soon as they entered the front door, they scattered in all directions, fanning out into the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, and up the stairs to the second and third floors. The house had once been their temporary home at an important point in their lives, and we were amused to see that they still felt at home—as if the intervening decades had suddenly been erased.

As we followed them through the house, it was as if a window opened into the past. We heard about how the sorority had utilized our various rooms. A small parlor room we use as a music room, for instance, was once a dining room, painted blue and set up with three tables for formal meals.  We also heard some pretty interesting stories—some of which we will relate in blogs to come! More than one sister commented to us that everything used to “seem so much bigger.” Our visitors were especially delighted to discover the carved initials on the attic support beam and speculated as to who “J. L.” and “N. H.” were.

After touring the house the group gathered on the porch and front lawn for group pictures! Almost every one of the sorority sisters had brought a camera, and we were asked to take pictures with each of them.   Before they all left to go to lunch at Ray’s Place (a favorite watering hole in Kent), the sisters paused to sing, maybe for the last time in this treasured place, a traditional sorority song called “The Girls of Alpha Chi.”

The law and real estate documents tell us we “own” the houses we live in. But old houses like ours, often built to last for a century or more, have many owners. To an old house like ours, we are just visitors, temporarily taking up residence, before we are quickly replaced by others. We are a small rivulet of humanity moving through and within the embrace of the house’s solid plaster and lath walls, hardwood floors, and high ceilings. We leave signs and signals, like the initials on the old beams, of our passage.

Old houses bear silent and stolid witness to our births and deaths, successes and failures. They are blind and mute to our frequent indiscretions. They tolerate our misguided “improvements” and, hopefully, enjoy our more sensitive renovations and restorations. We realize that our family, the Shreve family, is just one of many who have resided here. Other families will follow us if we are good stewards. We are the successors of those who have gone before us in this old house: the Masons, the Bradfords, the Lattins, the Austins, the Harts, the Becks—and, of course, the girls of Alpha Chi.

Roots

English Copper Beech in Kent, Ohio

Kurt Bolotin, Special to the Record Courier, Kent, Ohio.

Back in the late 1960’s when we first fell in love and began to make plans for our life together we never thought we would end up in Ohio all these years later. While Greg was finishing up his doctoral work at Ohio State in 1975, he sent applications for assistant professor positions in Anthropology to many places all over the US and abroad.  The new job could have landed us in Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and as far away as Australia. Jobs in Anthropology were difficult to come by, and we could have literally wallpapered an entire kitchen wall with the rejections he received.  Finally, at the last moment, just before the beginning of fall classes in 1975, he was offered a position teaching Sociology and Anthropology for one of Kent State University’s regional campuses in East Liverpool, Ohio.

Teaching for the Kent State regional campuses had us moving around the first fourteen years of his employment. Six years after he began at the university, Joan also joined the regional campus faculty, teaching computer technology.  In 1989, about two years after Greg began working full-time at the main campus, we decided, however,  to move to the little college town of Kent so Greg wouldn’t have to commute every day from where we lived at the time in Burton, Geauga County, Ohio.

And so we put down roots in Ohio, where we never really intended to stay for long!  We purchased an old Colonial Revival home in Kent’s historic neighborhood and have lived there ever since. Our stately home was built in 1916 by Mauda and Dudley Mason; Dudley was an executive of the former Mason Tire and Rubber Company in Kent. One of the features we love most about our home isn’t just its high ceilings, built-in cabinets, and crown molding—rather it is an old copper beech tree standing on the property, affectionately named “Old Rooty” by our children when they were little. The tree sits on a small south-facing slope next to our house, adjacent to Pioneer Avenue.  It’s a big tree, with large elephantine roots and a trunk of prodigious girth. During the warmer months of the year, it has leaves of a distinctive, shiny copper color—from which the species derives its name. This remarkable copper beech has its own history, a history older than the house itself.

Some thirty years before our home was built, in the last years of the 19th Century, a young man named John Davey planted the tree on a property that belonged to the town’s namesake, Marvin Kent. We have been told it is one of several such trees that Mr. Davey brought from England, when he emigrated here. Only two of those beeches survive today, and Old Rooty is one of them.

John Davey, the man who planted our beloved tree, is well-known to Kent locals as the “Father of Tree Surgery.” He was born in Somerset in southwest England and emigrated in his twenties to America.  He met and married Bertha Reeves of Ohio, the daughter of a Disciples of Christ minister. In June 1880 at the time of the Federal Census, John and his wife were living in Warren, Trumbull County, Ohio; the 1880 Census listed him as a “florist” by profession.  In 1881 the couple moved to Kent, and John became caretaker of the Standing Rock Cemetery. The cemetery, dating back to the late 1850’s, had become neglected and overgrown when John first took over its care. Through hard work and his expertise in landscaping, John transformed the Standing Rock graveyard into a beautiful memorial park. John soon became known around town as the “tree man”. He was an expert in the new field of applying scientific methods to the care of tree and penned a book entitled The Tree Doctor: The Care of Trees and Plants. Davey founded the Davey Tree Expert Company, and to this day the company continues to provide tree and lawn care services. Although the company has customers throughout the United States and Canada, its corporate headquarters are still housed here in Kent. John Davey died in November of 1923 and, fittingly, is buried in Kent’s Standing Rock Cemetery, the very cemetery he transformed with his plantings of trees, shrubs, and beautiful flowers.

Old Rooty holds an important place in our family’s own history.  When they were young, our children played beside its immense trunk and under the canopy of its copper-colored leaves. They were fascinated by the intricate tangle of roots that surround its base. Our son Justin once blogged about his treasured memories of the tree here:  http://binarysmash.com/2013/12/21/old-rooty

Every now and then, someone knocks on our door asking us what we know about the tree and its story. They snap pictures or attempt to measure the tree’s circumference. Once a few years back someone requested permission to use our beech for an artistic project. He created an etched granite tile imprinted with a photographic image of Old Rooty. We remember the excitement generated in our family when he arrived after dark to set up his photography shoot. He sprinkled the roots of the old tree with corn starch so that they would stand out in the photograph, a necessity for the etching process he was going to use. His finished work, he said, was a symbol of Kent itself, the “Tree City,” a place with so many deep and historic roots.

This year we will have lived in our home, with Old Rooty by its side, almost a quarter of a century. Ohio was only going to be a temporary stop in our lives. Yet here we are. The course of our lives is established by myriad decisions and opportunities, by countless events and connections, some planned, and some serendipitous. Where we set down and remain is often a tangle of happenstance, the end of a convoluted, unpredictable story that brought us, John Davey and Old Rooty to put deep roots into the same soil.

For further reading, see:

http://www.recordpub.com/local%20news/2003/05/09/kent-old-beech-tree-grew-from-davey-legacy-believed-to-be-one-of-first-local-trees-planted-by-company-founder.html

http://www.davey.com/about/the-davey-tree-legacy/

http://speccoll.library.kent.edu/reghist/davey/history.html

Mad, Bad Squirrels of Kent, Ohio

Art by Anthony Russo

Art by Anthony Russo

If you live in Kent, Ohio or went to school at Kent State University, you know about squirrels. Not just any squirrels, but black squirrels. These sable rodents are everywhere in the community and on campus. The black squirrel is, in fact, the unofficial mascot of Kent State. The official mascot is a “Golden Flash,” a stylized lightning bolt, but it is quite clear that town and gown alike find the ubiquitous furry squirrel more suitable as an urban icon. Every September the university holds a Black Squirrel Festival in its honor.

Black squirrels are, as Wikipedia says, a “melanistic subgroup of the eastern gray squirrel” Sciurus carolinensis.They aren’t native to Kent, but are recent interlopers, having been introduced to the campus by a grounds superintendent who imported them from Ontario, Canada in 1961. Details of the introduction of squirrels to Kent can be found here: http://www.kentohiohistory.org/squirrel/black_squirrel.html

Now, what is important to our story is this. Our little tree-dwelling creatures are not all cute and fluffy. Oh no, not at all. Ours, apparently, can be a bit aggressive, domineering, and territorial.  As Wikipedia reports Kent’s black squirrels have “driven out native squirrels in many areas” of Northeast Ohio.  Wherever black squirrels are introduced, they seem to thrive and establish growing populations. Indeed, in Battle Creek, Michigan they were introduced as rodent ninja assassins to “destroy the local population of red squirrels.” They’ve even crossed the Atlantic and invaded Britain: (http://kikistrikeny.blogspot.com/2009/01/black-squirrels-take-over-britain.html

Are all black squirrels mad, bad invaders?  We can only report from personal experience that they do, indeed, seem to be a rodent to be reckoned with. A few years ago Joan, making one of the few errors of judgment in her life, decided to feed the squirrels that live outside our Kent home. She decided on this course of action based on some soft-focus, sentimental memory of her Swedish grandmother. Joan fondly remembers her grandmother standing in her Indiana backyard, holding an apron filled with crumbs, surrounded by a semicircle of squirrels who are lined up and waiting patiently for their boon of bread.

Joan, channeling her adored grandmother, began to toss bread out to our squirrels. All went well at first. The rodents soon got the idea and began to show up to be fed. But one squirrel began to be insistent, pushy, and rude. Soon Joan wasn’t appearing on time, or often enough, or the bread wasn’t the requisite quality. He would approach closer and closer and be more demanding. Finally, the Swedish grandmother scenario collapsed entirely on the day Joan went to the side porch where she fed the squirrels and was confronted by a large, angry, and quite possibly demented, squirrel hanging spread-eagled on the screen door.

Not content with simple assault on our screen door, our local population is also adept at breaking and entering.  One particular episode comes to mind that occurred in the 1990’s. In our family we refer to it as the “Mega-Squirrel” story (AKA the “squirrel on steroids” tale, or perhaps we should spell it “tail”?).

One afternoon Joan ran downstairs to find Greg and exclaimed, “there’s a squirrel in the bathroom!” Greg, a dyed-in-the-wool empiricist, needed to see for himself, not (obviously) trusting mere hearsay. He entered the bathroom in question, looked around, saw nothing, and went back to what he was doing, announcing definitively, “there’s no squirrel in here.” Joan has encountered this skepticism on several other occasions, such as when there have been bats or birds in the house.

A few minutes passed. Joan reappeared and declared, a bit more urgently, “THERE’S A SQUIRREL IN THE BATHROOM!”  The capitalization is intended to denote a certain tone of voice whose purpose was to indicate to Greg that his previous pronouncement had turned out to be quite mistaken.

Greg returned to the bathroom, superior in his knowledge that no squirrel indeed inhabited the lavatory. Much to his surprise he found a door to the bathroom barricaded. A chair and a chest had been shoved against it.

“What’s this?” he asked.

Joan replied matter-of-factly, “It’s to keep the squirrel out of the bedroom.”

Greg, smiling indulgently, wondered what kind of rodent could provoke such defensive action. He skirted the barricade and entered the bathroom to find—wait for it—a large, frantic, and, frankly, frightening black squirrel sitting in the bathroom sink. A large hole in the ceiling tile pointed unmistakably to his point of ingress!

Well, to make a long story short, after a harrowing chase, some near misses, and a trap involving a large garbage can, the intruder was removed from the bathroom. What remained behind, however, is the story of mega-squirrel and the memory of Greg’s transgression of the bounds of marital trust when he failed to believe Joan’s claim that a squirrel was in the bathroom. There is apparently no expiration date for such mistakes.

So, here in Kent, Ohio we do, indeed, have mad, bad squirrels. We don’t mess with them. We should not mess with them. However, in New Mexico, when they were introduced there, they couldn’t best the fox squirrels. They were killed by them shortly after being released into the wild. Maybe we need some fox squirrel enforcers here in Kent. But, given our experience with demented squirrels so far, maybe that isn’t such a good idea.

Note: All Wikipedia references from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_squirrel.