Found & Lost redux

Don’t know if you remember the two abandoned guinea pigs we found in the snow, six months ago? Tiny little mites? Yes- those guys.

Well. A lot of water under the bridge since then, I can tell you. Not to mention bushel-loads of hay, kale, lettuce, apples, beans, courgettes- no, eughhhh, they hate courgettes. Which is a damn shame, since M grows them in such jungly profusion that another two pairs of jaws would have been very helpful at such times as when the tides of zucchini threatened to overwhelm GlioriSchloss and all who cooked there.

Since those early days, M has built a summer house with slot-in pig transporter so that the Boyz may be gently portaged from indoors to outdoors and released into their airy chateau sur les herbes HQ without too much stress and squeakings. And brought back in at night, since neither of us could bear the idea of the poor little mites cowering in their hutch while cats prowled outside trying to find a way in.

Since we first clapped eyes on each other, I’ve written a book about their earlier lives ( sheer curiosity and a long period of waiting for various projects to get off the ground drove me to imagine what on earth could have brought two little guinea pigs to a snowy car park in the back of beyond*) with a great deal of fanciful embroidery and writerly hyperbole, but hey…that’s how I roll. Besides, Lost may well have been the descendant of a Russian émigré…

However, as usual, I’m going off-topic. The thing is, time has passed and the Boyz are now the guinea pig equivalent of teenagers. Oh, boy. Oh BOYZ. NO! STOP! Eughhhhh.

Sex has supplanted food in their scheme of what is most important in their lives, and heaven knows, the poor wee guys need something to take their minds off a life spent in what amounts to a very pleasant prison. So scrawny little Found spends an inordinate amount of time sniffing hopefully ( or perhaps suicidally) at Lost’s cojoñes until finally, Lost manoeuvres his vast bulk around and jumps on top of Found. There is a considerable disparity in their sizes, I might add. Not to mention their intellects. Found, despite this behaviour detailed above, is definitely the brains of the outfit. But even so, we occasionally have to take them off to the bath, put them in a centimetre of warm water and gently launder their fur. BOYZ, I tell you…

I look at them in their cage and wonder if we did the right thing all those months ago. Then we have a rare sunny day, we hook up the slot-in pig transporter, the Boyz run flat out to be first inside, and look, there they are, being carried lovingly outside to their hutch. Where they run freely, jump all over each other, play with their toys, eat lettuce till I swear they’re stoned out of their tiny minds and generally have the air blowing around their whiskers.

Air on your whiskers, no predators, a wide and plentiful variety of things to eat and a hot and cold running supply of humans to do your bidding…how bad can that be?

*The answer is not – their own legs. Anyone who has ever seen a guinea pig waddle would know that they’re not built for distance.

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Hands across the ocean 2

So. Tickets found and I’m on a train which we caught by a mere whisker. Miss Mouse is a bit of a quivering wreck to be honest; running for trains with wheelie cases and fiddle in tow is not her idea of A Good Way to Pass a Sunday Afternoon. Still… 

Where was I? Yes; back to LA. After a few days of acclimation we ventured out ( always by car) to do a bit of sightseeing. The Californian coast was dotted with hundreds of those ‘nodding donkeys’ endlessly siphoning oil all the better to run the beating, glittering, air-conditioned heart of the City of the Angels. The coastline was lovely, we had picnics, drank date shakes ( yum) fended off predatory squirrels intent on stealing our picnics and generally enjoyed the warmth. Heading back into town with the sky a hot grey and the smog a visible presence as we drew closer to the city, we saw that all around on the Santa Monica highway were the biggest cars and suvs and trucks I’d ever seen.

Back then, that was. 

In 1988 to be precise. Since then, we’ve adopted the supersize US model in so many things, aligning our cars, portion sizes and expectations to those of our cousins across the Pond. After 9.11 we wrote that we were all Americans now. Just as after recent atrocities in Europe, we’ve been Parisians, Londoners etc. 

So now, as hurricanes batter Cuba and St Kitts- are we all Cubans now? As Irma bears down on Houston and Florida? Where are we on that? As wildfires turn an area of California roughly equivalent to Germany, France, Spain and Portugal combined ( combined!) to smoke and ash… where are we on that? 

What the hell will it take for us to wake up and say- ‘ we’re all humans here and we need to get our shit together before…’

Before we destroy our one and only home.

I don’t know if those siphoning nodding donkeys are still doing their thing on the California coastline. I don’t know if the outdoor pools I swam in and indoor a/c I enjoyed is still running. I suspect the cars are smaller; only the poor drive those vast gas-guzzling museum pieces. I don’t know if the highway still has fourteen lanes of traffic.

Or if the squirrels still try to pinch your picnics.

One thing’s for sure; we are all nodding donkeys now.

I hope we wake up in time. 

Hands across the ocean 1

First time I ever went to America, we flew from Edinburgh to London then caught another flight to Los Angeles. With two children. One of whom, a baby, spent the entire fourteen hours clamped to one or other of my breasts. By the time we landed at LAX, I was a shrivelled prune, as dearly in need of rehydration as one of those California raisins I’d been consuming since childhood. I’d always loved the packaging on those ; a vanishing series of girls holding a box of raisins on which was a girl holding a box of raisins until she was so small, she was invisible.

matruschka of California girls. I’ve always loved those Russian dolls too. With their smaller and smaller editions of the mama dolly, until the penultimate  tiny dolly yields what I like to refer to as ‘the Bean’. Woe betide the hoover or dog that devours the Bean. Anyhoo, I digress. America. We landed, were picked up by our in-laws ( well, then they were out-laws) and driven in an enormous car out to the ‘burbs to a house with two vast, panting Alsatians with Greek names. I suspect the dogs were for security purposes rather than any love of dogs since their lives were proscribed by the smallness of their back garden enclosure and the lack of places to run, walk or generally be a proper dog.

Overhead, planes took off and landed all night long. Police helicopters chopped past, shining floodlights down into the glittering streets. Morning brought floods of sunshine, Cheerios and a trip to the supermarket which was an education in itself. The Santa Monica highway was seven (seven!) lanes wide and drivers of open-topped cars sat reading ( reading!) as we inched along.

Some years before, a boyfriend had nicknamed me Miss Mouse, and would draw little encouraging drawings for me if I ever had to take a portfolio down to London or go anywhere outwith my normal zone of operations. For that same Miss Mouse to find herself in LA was disorientating in the extreme.

I’m going to continue this later because I’m going to Morayshire tomorrow and somehow, I’ve lost all details of my train times. I know Morayshire isn’t that far, but Miss Mouse is still having a Major Fret and feeling totally overwhelmed. So for now, I’m off to hunt for train times and leaving you with the promise that I will return.

Squeaking.