WWK Blogger Paula Gail Benson has two short stories running in Kings River Life Magazine this weekend, "Pelican Spring" and "The Mama Factor." Both are Mother's Day short stories. You can read them by going to: http://kingsriverlife.com/category/kings-river-reviewers/terrific-tales/
Linda Rodriguez is a finalist in two categories for the International Latino Book Awards (given out at BEA the end of May)--one for Every Last Secret and one for editing Woven Voices: 3 Generations of Puertorriquena Poets Look at Their American Lives (with Gloria Vando, Anika Paris, and Anita Velez-Mitchell). Congratulations, Linda!
The second SinC Guppy anthology, Fish Nets, has been released by Wildside Press. WWK authors, Gloria Alden, Warren Bull, Kara Cerise and E. B. Davis have short stories in this volume, which can be bought at Wildside Press, the usual retailers and will be available at the Malice Domestic Conference. Look for "the story behind the stories" on May 1 here!
Upcoming Salad Bowl Saturdays include authors Sasscer Hill on 5/18 and Carolyn Mulford on 5/25. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, send a message to Jim Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
AN INVASION OF MARSUPIALS
The Virginia Opossum, commonly simply called possum, dates back to the time of the dinosaurs. It's the only marsupial (pouched mammal) in North America and fossils found here date it further back than any of those found in Australia. Our native possum, a habitant of woods and fields, is an omnivore, eating insects, plants, birds, eggs, carcasses and anything it comes across. It has adapted quite well to civilization.
In 1608, Captain John Smith described this unusual animal as "An Opassum hath an head like a Swine, and a taile like a rat and is of the bignes of a cat. Under her belly she hath a bagge, wheren shee lodgeth . . . and sucketh her young." It is cat sized with short legs and five toes with one opposable. It has sparse gray hair - lighter in the north and darker in the southern states with a white face, long pointed pink nose and large leaf like ears. Its tail is long and mostly hairless. Possums are also known to play dead, sometimes for hours to fool predators. The female gives birth to many young that crawl to her pouch and attach themselves to a teat, but only about eight survive.
Why this interest in possums? Well, as I've mentioned in an earlier blog, I live in an old farm house. The basement's main supporting beam is a log with bark still on it under the original two rooms of the house built well over a hundred years ago. The cellar ceiling is low and difficult for anyone much taller than me to walk in it. The floor in this section is a thin layer of cement with cracks that mud seeps through during rainy weather. It's only completely dry in the winter when the ground freezes and the furnace is on. New walls put in have largely eliminated the critters that were living in the basement when I bought the house. Mice are still a bit of a problem when fall comes, but my two cats usually take care of them.
Last summer when I returned from vacation, I wondered about the dirty cat dishes on the landing at the top of the cellar steps and the bag of cat food ripped open, but thought maybe my daughter-in-law, who was caring for my critters inside and out, had forgotten to feed the cats one evening. When I went to the cellar to clean their litter boxes, I noticed a small rip in the cellar window screen. Worrying a chipmunk could get in or mice, I closed the cellar window. The top of the small freezer under the window was dirty with muddy footprints. I wondered why the cats were up there, but didn't think much more about it. I also wondered about the huge racket I heard on the cellar steps one evening. When I checked, I saw the cats had knocked both of their crockery dishes down the steps. Fortunately they didn't break.
Later that week I started to smell a dead rodent odor. I couldn't locate a dead mouse, but thought it must be under the washer, stove, refrigerator or some other difficult to reach place. In time the smell would go away, I reasoned. Several weeks later when a furnace man came to repair my furnace, he told me he'd found my dead rodent. It was in a small Have-a-Heart trap I'd set in the basement over a year ago for a chipmunk I thought I had in the house. I never caught a chipmunk and forgot about the trap which now held a very dead half-grown possum that filled the small trap. Yuck! Well, at least it was dead, and I 'd discovered the cat food problem and had gotten rid of it.
Several nights later I came home from a book club meeting and as I was hanging up my jacket, I heard something rustling on the landing to the cellar steps. I glanced in the kitchen and both of my cats were sitting there. I opened the cellar door wider and turned on the light. A young possum started down the steps then turned and looked back at me. Horrors! I took the cat food out of the cellar way and closed the cellar door tightly. The next day I brought a litter box upstairs for the cats as well as their food and set a larger Have-a-Heart trap in the basement and kept the cellar door closed. The following morning I had a young possum in my trap and released it into the woods. I caught two more and released them, also, and when I hadn't caught more after a few more days, I finally decided my house was possum free.
I think every life experience is something that can be used for our writing. So far, except for this blog, I'm not sure how I can work this into at least a short mystery story, but I'm thinking about it. Do you have any ideas on how I can use it in a mystery?
Have you had any unwelcome guests in your home?