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Beware the Honest Photographer …

Today, I stopped by one of the Facebook photo groups to which I belong. I stayed to enjoy some of the recent shots there. Then I came upon a beautiful photo, and the note with it said “unedited”. Someone had posted a comment to the effect that “unedited photos are best” – and I moved on. It saddens me when groups erect barriers between members. Divisiveness is heartbreaking. Right away, all the other photographers – the ones who might pop the saturation a bit, or adjust lighting, or refine sharpness, or crop their shots to remove an unattractive detail, or reduce noise in the shadows, straighten a horizon line that’s tilted, remove a stray insect that has left a spot on the sky – are dismissed as being inferior somehow. Only those who create “unedited” shots and proudly declare this fact are to be applauded? Really?! What’s wrong with this picture?

Every photo is edited. As soon as it comes out of a camera and is converted to a JPEG file for printing or sharing, it’s changed from the way the camera initially saw it. It’s compressed and there is an automatic loss of detail. For many photographers, shooting in JPEG to begin with, their cameras have already applied editing of one kind or another. We can store the original RAW shots as TIFF files to avoid detail loss (as I often do) but few sites allow TIFF uploads. They are enormous files. But there is no unprocessed, raw shot ever posted on Facebook or anywhere else online that I know of. Not ONE. Even a cellphone shot – especially a cellphone shot! – has been processed by the phone’s own program. In many cases, heavily processed.

Therefore, I’m mulling over the implications of being party to a lie. And it IS a lie, no matter the motivations. People feel pressured to make claims that are simply untrue. I find this terribly discouraging. Why not just look at an image and enjoy it for whatever reasons it’s been shared? Or pass it by and go on to another? Why judge its merits on a false premise?

I don’t mind seeing people share their camera settings by way of information. This choosing of settings, too, is an editorial process but knowing the specifics can be helpful to others who are trying for similar effects. And all cameras have settings. One can see them by viewing them in whatever photo program is being used. Time, date, shutter speed, exposure time, ISO – all are there. Very useful details they are, indeed. And then there’s Image Stabilization. It eliminates a fair bit of camera shake; some of us have none-too-steady hands. So isn’t this an artifice as well? It’s certainly a form of assistance!

Still, there’s this implicit disdain for those who avail themselves of photographic tools and refuse to state otherwise. I wish I knew why this is happening. Ansel Adams manipulated his photos, decades ago. Nobody found them lacking or unworthy of praise. Why is it that now – with the remarkable technology that has been created for our use – it’s apparently wrong to take advantage of it?

Would we want to undergo abdominal surgery by kitchen knife as opposed to laser? Or refuse to refrigerate seafood and chicken because it’s not natural? Or entirely avoid our vehicles in order to travel on foot? Or paint only with our fingers because, well, brushes are artificial? Or write a book but reject the idea of proofreading for errors? I could go on but I’m sure that’s unnecessary.

Call me confused. And somewhat downcast as well. But at least I’m upfront. I edit my shots, period. I won’t try to fudge the issue by stating otherwise.

Here, by the way, is a photo I took this morning – overcast, calm, a tad dull. It was RAW to begin with and got converted to JPEG. I’ve post-processed it, of course, to share it here. How I did that, and what I chose to adjust, I won’t divulge because it shouldn’t matter. In any art form, the means to the end makes little difference. The end ought to be all that counts.

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Looking for a Road to Follow

It’s been quite a year. And sometimes I sit and wonder which direction to take next. I’ve been mulling over the idea of not writing poetry any more; of setting aside my cameras; of moving into some new territory where I might find acceptance and peace – from myself as well as from others.

Life has become a competition: Who can write the best poem and win the top prize? Who can create the most amazing photos with the most public applause or “likes” on Facebook? Who can garner the highest level of support for his or her position/views/candidacy/social status? And increasingly, I wonder why some of us even bother to enter that gushing stream. I wonder why I, in particular, bother. It’s rocky and the water can knock us over. In the end, what’s left but to fall and get thoroughly wet?

If I define myself by “success” – whether it’s placing in a poetry competition or getting a ribbon for a photography prize or being named to some committee or other – that seems like a narrow sort of frame. Maybe it’s time to walk outside the canvas and head into unknown lands. My view is shifting. Success doesn’t mean what it once did. Maybe I’m just too old to be taken in by veneer. I want the real wood underneath, even if it’s rough and grainy.

I have many sins to count and correct – or at least to cancel somehow. Regrets. Atonement. Stubbed toes and twisted ankles. I’m not the person I was in my younger years; none of us can remain as we were. For me, this is a good thing. We can never go back again; we can change not a single blip of time past. We can only live in the moment and hope it will matter to someone.

A poem – like a photograph – is an in-the-moment sort of creation, which is probably why I’ve enjoyed writing this form or wandering around with a camera in hand. But still, I sit back and reflect on whether or not my own moments are worth recording. It seems egocentric. Writers in general are an egocentric lot, I think. We have to be in order to push out and tame those ideas and memories, like having too many babies and not quite knowing how to afford them. There’s an uneasy line between too much of self and not enough of it; between embracing the reader and retreating behind a barbed fence. More than any other genre, poetry bares us to everyone else. We pull out our still-beating hearts and lay them bloody on the ground at our feet. We’re either mad or out-of-touch or stuffily outdated. We draw in the trampling crowds and we also drive them away.

I’m a solitary soul these days. This, too, might be part of aging. Gradually, the companions of my way have fallen behind or wandered off the road and gone somewhere else. I still hear footsteps around me; I still watch tiny figures in the distance. Whether or not I join them, or they wait for me to catch up, I can’t say. Robert Frost spoke of stopping by woods on a snowy evening – alone except for his little horse – and he seemed okay with that. Some people make camp in those woods, sit in circles around cheerful fires, talk into the late hours, with mugs of hot chocolate or beer. I’m the one stopping to gaze among the trees but going no further than that.

Meanwhile, it’s cold outside and my house hasn’t yet acquired its morning coziness. I’m sitting here in stocking feet without so much as a fire in the stove. This, friends, is what being alone can do to a person. We simply forget to worry about things, even basics like striking a match or putting on slippers. And then younger folks call us senile. 

This ramble hasn’t taken me anywhere. My camera still sits at my elbow. The words still gestate in my head. A blue jay in the hedge reminds me of birds and baseball. Flight and defeat; hope and resignation. My empty coffee cup begs for attention. It’s unfilled – like me, I guess. I need to pour into it the steaming brew of bone-toasting joy. One gesture at a time, right? Then the fire, and the footwear. All is well with me; may it also be well with you.

Thanksgiving Monday

After yesterday’s wind-tousled afternoon, it’s hushed here. Gulls have assembled out on the river, perching atop the exposed rocks and drifting like ghosts in an endless stream. Perhaps some fish are returning to the sea, and these birds have come to try their luck. The eaglets are whistling in high voices, sitting on power poles where the view must be unparalleled. Trees have begun to shrug into their fall wraps – a touch of orange here, a kiss of crimson there. Clouds descend to silver the mirror, then quietly depart. The sky arches above me like an upturned cup, filled with the wine of life and celebration.

My Facebook news feed speaks of politics, prejudice, accident and evil intent. It also shares personal posts. A friend mourns the loss of his brother today. Another friend recalls her father with love and sorrow, as he’s been gone for many years. Still another battles a disease whose very name can terrify the bravest heart. My husband’s ashes rest in a plastic case, awaiting release to the air and elements. All is not “happy” here on earth. Not everyone is entirely thankful for what this day has brought to their doorsteps. I will temper my own optimism, which is seldom loud in any event, and acknowledge that for too many of us, this day is simply one more round of struggle and disappointment. It seems almost cruel to flaunt my bounty and my blessings while they have so little.

Yet I would be less than honest if I overlooked the vireo flocks trilling among the maples; my bright-eyed dog keeping watch in the yard; the sheen of water moving forever to a dance of rain and gravity. I can hardly ignore my little family, with a daughter whose strength awes me and a son-in-law whose kindness and patience are gifts to the soul – not to mention a grandson whose whole being is full of laughter and promise. I can never omit a step-granddaughter whose presence lends so much joy. They’re with me every hour, whether or not we see each other in the flesh.

And it would be a shame to dismiss my helianthus, with their gold spires that flare against impossibly blue monkshood. The former – also known as Jerusalem artichokes – are edible and nourishing at their root; the latter are toxic and would kill me if I tried to eat them. So it is, I think, with the barrage of information that runs down my pages and disappears. I have to find the nourishment – the simple, humane touches – among so many less compassionate stories. I want the sunchokes, not the poison. I want to draw down the light if I can. These brief blooms do it, with no thought but survival. With no care but to fulfill their appointed places at the time chosen just for them.

May I fill my own place as well as I can manage, and graciously accept this span that has been granted for my use. May I leave peace, birdsong and sunflowers in my wake.

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The 21st Day of the Month …

I have been a widow for exactly three months now. “21” was always a lucky number for me and I chose it for any lottery card or game of chance that I played. I once won an enormous stuffed elephant on the wheel at a fair – can’t recall which one now – because I picked 21. But that number represents another event now. If one sees death as release from pain and suffering, and as a journey into another realm of light and healing, then it is still a number of good fortune. But perhaps not so much for anybody dealing with the aftermath of that release. It takes awhile to shift perspective.

I’ve stopped wanting to make phone calls that cannot be answered any more, or sort through yard-sale books in search of specific themes that would please another reader instead of myself. I walk through the rooms of our home in town and they feel empty of anything or anyone. It’s such a beautiful, cozy setting with its burnished wood floors and bright windows. I keep hoping that today – or tomorrow – the right person will walk in and say, “THIS is for me!” It needs to beat to the pulse of a new family. I’m not desperate financially, just hopeful to place this dear house with people who can build their future in it. And maybe walk the hiking trail as David so loved to do, while he still could.

“What would you do, while you still could?” is one of the questions always posted on ALS sites. David would have a ready answer: “I would WALK!” And walk, and walk. Bend his fingers, raise his arms, shout across the hills to hear his own echo. Yes, he’d do all those things. Simple things we don’t tend to think about.

David’s memorabilia – the prints he collected over the decades – still adorn the walls. Armies, ancient battles, ships of beauty and grace. All the history that he cherished. His rows of books wait for attention, carefully collected and arranged on shelves he built himself, just before his hands failed.

Then I stand above the river, here in the country where he so enjoyed spending the warmer months, and gaze across the water as he so often loved to do. His zero-gravity chair sits empty now. The hollowed grass where the dog curled up is grown back. Cash would lie in the shade next to David by the hour. I sometimes wonder what he thinks of this absence. How much he understands. Whether he has forgotten already or still waits for a return that can never come.

At night, the flowers glow on the little memorial cross until their solar power is spent. By the time I go to bed, it’s faded. Brief illumination in the darkness – like us, I suppose. We shine for our allotted span and then the shadows fold around us.

I’m learning to wear my changed status with greater comfort these days. Or at least with acceptance. I know there are no reversals, not unless some brilliant physicist unravels the true meaning of time and enables us to move freely on its continuum. That may come, but not yet. For now, we’re perched in the present. We feel the mist falling soft on our hair and breathe the sweetness of today’s lilies as they open. Every word I type here represents an increase in my age. This is irrevocable. In some future not imagined, I shall have my own significant date with an exit. Someone will recall that number with a certain sense of loss, regret, maybe even relief.

I can only pray that I’ll do good with the balance owing, between now and then. I need to cut through the clutter and clatter until I find what is most likely to make a difference. The rest is just extra layers. These can become heavy and pointless. Perhaps the greatest blessings, the finest gifts, have no weight at all.

The Life we have is very great.
The Life that we shall see
Surpasses it, we know, because
It is Infinity.
But when all Space has been beheld
And all Dominion shown
The smallest Human Heart’s extent
Reduces it to none.

– Emily Dickinson

The Alarm Who Cried Wolf (or Meep-Meep-Meep-Meep …) and Other Stories

Someone in my neighbourhood has either a car alarm or a house alarm that keeps going and going – it is the Energizer Bunny of alarm systems. It does this several times each day or night. Nobody appears interested in turning it off when this happens. I have timed it at 11:20 PM, in fact. It’s on so often now, Cash ignores it and won’t bark (he did at first). The sound isn’t all that bothersome to me personally, as it’s in the distance. Merely a curiosity. I have no idea who owns it.

But still … it suggests one of two things. Either we have a massive number of attempted break-ins here, which seems odd since this is a back road where everyone knows everyone and we keep our eyes on each other’s homes; or this is the most sensitive and possibly defective alarm system on the market.

However, if the whole point of having this feature is to alert us – or the police – to a potential intruder, and to act accordingly, wouldn’t it become redundant after awhile? If no one responds, and it’s just another local noise that we all accept as normal, what would happen in a REAL “situation”?

Just a rural ramble from my morning brain.

Enjoy your day! There’s so much happening in the area. The big Museum sale starts at 9, I think. We always attended that; David and I never wanted to miss it. We’d lug home all sorts of treasures. Last year it was an oil painting of two ships passing in the night. Countless books, collectibles, pet supplies, plants … you name it, we bought it. I got a doll for $2 and discovered her original, handwritten price tag dangling from one wrist: $195 before tax. David loved beautiful dolls, women or children dressed in vintage clothing. He was a Romantic at heart; he would have felt comfortable in the days of Keats and Wordsworth. Or even Queen Victoria – which was later but nonetheless, a fashionable era. He never failed to notice when someone was wearing a lovely dress – as opposed to my usual jeans and tee-shirts or other casual attire. In his head, he wanted to see me in lace and straw bonnet, trailing gauzy skirts and flowers. In my head, I wished that sort of garb would actually have suited me. Alas, my friends all know that if I were to show up looking like a “tea lady” from Maycomb, some sort of medication for my illness would not be far behind.

I tactfully refrained from mentioning that his own fashion statement consisted of tan cord pants with suspenders and a brown Argyle vest, often with checked shirt underneath. But clothes don’t always make the man, or the woman. They DO, however, make the doll!

So another annual sale has arrived. The ropes will be in place to prevent early birds from rushing the tables. There will be a constant murmur of chat punctuated by laughter, and not a few Timmie’s cups in hands waiting for their purchases. This year I will be staying home. I’m discovering that I have limits when it comes to crowds, and also to reawakening recent memories. I avoid big yard sales for the same reasons. I know I’d find many items that David would have so enjoyed having. I’d think, “I must pick this up for him.” Of course, I’d have to travel a LONG way for him to receive my bargains. As it is, at our Tusket Frenchy’s a few weeks ago, I bought a small framed print because it was just the sort of thing he liked, and he would have appreciated it – a carriage drawn by immaculate horses through what looked to be a nineteenth-century town. I felt he wouldn’t have wanted me to leave it behind. After 35 years of yard sales, I understand exactly what would have caught his attention.

I hung it on my wall as a posthumous offering of sorts. An acknowledgment that he still matters; that we all matter, because we were here and left out imprint on the fabric of the world. Memory in a thrift-shop frame.

Maybe in a few more months, crowds and flea markets and sales won’t daunt me. I wish I knew whether this is a regular occurrence among the recently-widowed? I wish we had a little support group I could attend, just to find out how to grieve. How to heal; how to tell myself that it’s all right if I skip a few once-favourite occasions. How to grasp when it’s time to buy just for me, and feel no frisson of guilt if I forget to include an unseen companion as I browse.

So go to the Yarmouth County Museum, folks. Buy lots of good stuff. Drag it home and gloat that you grabbed it before anybody else could get his or her mercenary hands on it. Have fun!! I hope the rain (badly needed) won’t descend until the sale is finished. This is an important fundraiser.

Next year, I do believe that I’ll be back!

“Emotional Predators” of the Elderly

Advancing years – coupled with illness – often make us vulnerable to many challenges. If we have loved ones to help us cope and to offer protection against personal harm, this can be immensely reassuring. Sadly, some seniors – especially if they’re confronting major disabilities and gradually losing their sense of self-control or independence – often fall victim to others who insinuate themselves between the concerned family and the struggling father, mother or grandparent.

Because women tend to outlive men in Westernized nations, this particular situation can entail a gender imbalance. However, both males and females do become targets for the unscrupulous. Sadly, these unethical individuals usually gain the confidence of the victim through an appearance of friendship and good intentions. By the time family members become aware that something is awry, the relationship between predator and prey might be firmly established. It’s then very difficult to convince the elderly person that he or she is being conned.

This is frequently not a matter of mental incompetence but of misplaced trust. As we age, or face various hardships at any stage in our lives, we do need to feel that we’re the focus of someone else’s attention. We need to believe we’re highly valued and that we’ll receive assistance from those who know us best. Usually, in fact, we are important to our loved ones and we do get help as needed. Unfortunately, our adult children might well have jobs and families that take up much of their time. Spouses, too, might be feeling overwhelmed by the demands of caregiving and coping with their own ageing processes. They might not be aware that others are showing excessive and inappropriate interest in their partners.

Granted, elder abuse – and the kinds of scams that often accompany it – can also happen within families. This is a whole different topic. And there are many wonderful souls who visit seniors in nursing homes or at their own residences, assist them with everyday needs and genuinely want to make a positive difference. Heaven knows, we need these merciful angels! But my own concern is with total-to-near-strangers who materialize almost out of nowhere and gain the trust of their victims. Whether their intent is to acquire property, exploit financially or merely to interfere with the individual’s social and personal interactions, the results can be disastrous.

Con artists have no shame and will practise their deception without any qualms. But then there are those other folks who don’t understand the circumstances and honestly think they’re being kind and compassionate. They never stop to consider the impact their attention might be having on others who have been part of that senior’s life for many, many years. These people are, perhaps, more naive than malicious, but in the end they can do dreadful damage. If the person is undergoing medical treatment, usually the next-of-kin are the ones who understand each procedure and help to manage appointments, medications and so on. Most medical authorities want to deal with next-of-kin, such as spouses and/or grown children, or professionals such as nurses and Homecare providers. They’re not going to accept someone with no legal connections as an appropriate source of patient support.

When called to account for their actions, these so-called “friends” will typically protest. “But I was only trying to help.” “He loves going for drives.” “I’m just being a good neighbour.” Or – worst of all – “I don’t see any of YOU looking after her!”

At times, either party may misrepresent his/her marital status or familial ties. He or she might even play the “pity card” rather effectively. “Poor me – my wife is more like my sister now.” “Don’t worry; we’re separated.” “Our marriage has been dead for years.” “It’s OK, she (he) won’t mind as long as we’re just friends.” “He totally ignores me most of the time.” “My children never do anything for me.” And so on. Without actually having known this individual beforehand, the sympathetic listener might well be inclined to believe everything at face value. This can also occur in online relationships where the “details” can be slanted to fit the intention. Indeed, the devil is in those details when that’s the case.

It’s usually not hard to determine the truth. Separated or divorced? Ask to see proof – the papers themselves, or a document scan sent as an email attachment. Neglectful family? Check the Facebook page, if there is one, and see whether or not family members show up on it. Or make discreet inquiries around the community. She (or he) won’t mind? Then why not talk to him or her, make email contact or call and ask? If you’re reluctant to do that, perhaps you ought to question your own motives and then back away. And if there is no documentation of a marriage breakdown, it’s best to run. Fast!

Otherwise, such a “friendship” can quickly alienate a family from a loved one if that person is still living independently and has, in fact, not been estranged from those who care most. This is simply not fair. 

Some opportunists will even claim to be affiliated with a particular religion that sincerely cares for the senior’s soul, even when it doesn’t. They’ll pray with him, visit him regularly, invite him to their church. Flattered, and unaware he’s being used for profit, he will respond with eagerness. Needless to say, there will be some tradeoff: salvation for donations. The relatives often have no idea this is going on. Countless elderly folks have been bilked out of their life savings by charlatans operating in the name of God. A valid and caring church will offer support to its adherents. A fake one will siphon away their money.

For partners and others responsible for the welfare of a vulnerable individual, here are a few warning signs that might indicate a problem:

– the appearance of a new “friend” or “companion” whom the family members don’t know very well, if at all
– the exclusion of family, by the above individual, from activities involving their loved one
– unusual generosity on the part of the senior when it comes to either money or time given to a stranger
– secretiveness and refusal to respond to questions about new or recent relationships
– unavailability for family events, or unexpected refusal to attend them
– increasing suspicion directed at loved ones over their concern for the situation
– hostility and resentment that appear to have little or no cause
– lack of communication through the usual channels (phone, email, texting, Facebook messages or whatever)
– loss of empathy with others who might also be facing hard times; self-absorption
– indifference to consequences, or inability to think ahead
– sudden and inexplicable interest in activities that have never before been important

I am the wife of a seriously ill senior. His disease has no cure and it will ultimately take him from us. Yes, my daughter and I occasionally find ourselves dealing with disruptions by those who don’t have his (or our family’s) best interests at heart. Sometimes there have been innocent approaches and other times, not so much. The trick is to know the difference! I’ve also had connections with other families that were torn apart by the machinations of a predator.

I hope that anyone in similar circumstances will find my reflections relevant. Some readers might even recognize their own stories here. They key is to remain vigilant. We have to speak up! If we don’t, who will?

Stand firm. We’re our loved one’s last and most reliable line of defence.  He or she might not realize this, but we do.

Sonnet for a Not-So-Well-Meaning Stranger

You call yourself his “friend”; he names you thus
as well – and yet, my dear, you have not been
with him these thirty years or more; not seen
his weeping wounds, nor braved the night, to rush
down rainy back roads while he cries in pain.
Have never heard his doctor say “Cancer”;
his specialist sigh “ALS” – his answer:
“Thank you. I’ve lived my span. I can’t complain.”

You, madam, think a casual embrace
is somehow your entitlement to share
one more adventure with this man? His wife,
his daughter, and her little son must face
your interference? You were never there!
Just go away – wreck someone else’s life.

Brenda Levy Tate

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Of Rats and Men (or Women)

As many who know me will attest, I tend to attract wildlife to my property. I feed whatever wants to eat my sunflower seeds and bread crusts and other scatterings. They are more than welcome to share what I have to offer.

The winter before last, a rat began to search for dropped seeds under my bird feeders. He was brown, of course, and not overly large. This is a rural area; we have rodents. I admired his shiny coat and noted his constant state of alertness. He wanted the benefits of my hospitality but he had no desire to pay for them with his life!

Eventually, he was joined by his smaller and humbler mate. She followed at a distance, careful not to intrude on his place at the feast. Both of them left neat tracks in the snow, and a trail that led beneath my rock-wall foundation. As there is no access to the basement on that side, I simply shrugged and kept refilling the seed supply. After all, the rats did not harm to me or mine. I must admit, though, to feeling more disturbed by the female’s secretiveness and her preference for shadows. The male was right out there, blatantly helping himself and enjoying the bounty. She – not so much. So I wondered what she was up to and what unhappy circumstances she might have set in motion.

All remained quiet for many months and I finally dropped my guard and forgot about these two. Not so long ago, however, I happened to glance out my living-room window and noticed a rather well-toned female rat ambling across the lawn. She navigated my flowerbeds and headed for the basement door – which, as luck would have it, was closed. Since I hadn’t seen either of my rat residents for almost a year, this one surprised me. She might have been a visitor, or one of the previous generation’s offspring. She appeared to be alone; possibly her partner had met his fate. This neighbourhood is a magnet for stray cats, which are taken in and fed by various caring souls. I’d assumed the cat population and the rat population had come to a disagreement. Not so, apparently. One can never assume anything where rats are concerned.

So now I must reassess my attitude toward these creatures. Others have warned me to beware of them. “Ew! They’re RATS. They carry diseases and they make such a mess.” I’ve usually responded with, “So do we.”

But a rat is a rat. Inevitably, she will revert to her true nature. And the thing is: I’ve encouraged her presence. I thought she would respect her boundaries. Clearly, I’m both naive and hopelessly trusting.

A rat will take advantage of any vulnerability. She will quietly intrude where her occupancy is neither wanted nor appropriate, simply because she can. And she might go unrecognized by the human family who have yet to discover her legacy.

The woman who invites a rat into her home – or tolerates that rat’s activities nearby – is only two steps away from being called a fool. Rats have no conscience. They don’t care whose lives and security they disrupt. They defecate on precious and irreplaceable parts of our existence, especially papers. We save letters, books, journals and cards; rats shred them and soil them. A rat can interfere not only with cleanliness and comfort but with communication itself. With memories that we have believed to be inviolate. Then we have little choice but to throw those memories in the trash. The woman who has tried only to be kind will find herself bereft of many things she cherishes. And her friends and loved ones will show her little sympathy. They will tell her that she has brought all this on herself.

Sadly, once established within the boundaries of home and family, a rat will prove tough to dislodge. If we are surrounded by creatures we love – cats, dogs, other pets – then poisoning such an animal is dangerous. The toxicity of our efforts will spread and infect everything. Love and companionship can easily die, while the rat simply slips away without remorse. We shiver at the toothmarks left behind on everything we hold dear, then bury our dead and wonder how we could have been so stupid.

A trap can present the rat with a challenge but most of the time, it won’t feel threatened. No rat ever felt guilty when confronted with a reminder that she has destroyed our peace and privacy; has ruined something within our home that can’t be easily fixed. The expression, “I don’t give a rat’s ass,” is spot-on. A rat couldn’t care less what pain or damage she causes. That’s just who and what she is.

And if you are reading this piece and wondering whether, in fact, it might be a tad allegorical – you’re very perceptive. Rats need not walk on all fours and drag their naked tails in the dust. They can stand upright, too, and seek out any evidence of weakness. They can exploit and destroy. Their very name is synonymous with someone who can neither be trusted nor admired.

I suspect this needs no further explanation. I’ve never met anybody who hasn’t encountered a rat now and then. Perhaps they’ve been put in our paths as a test of some sort? The trick is to figure out an effective answer to that particular question. I must admit to failure on that score.  Where the Giant Rat Quiz is concerned, I can’t even understand how to read it, let alone know what I’m expected to write.

 

 

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