As we speak, John’s outside working on his second terrace. In the rain.

John on terrace

Our house sits on a hillside with only a couple areas naturally flat enough to garden. Anywhere else — everywhere else — requires leveling by building stone terraces and then filling in with soil. Already John has built up a large terraced garden area directly in front of the house; this newest one is along the side, between our two monster stacks of firewood and above yet another garden.

Because, you know…there’s no such thing as too many gardens.

While I also love gardens, John is obsessed with them (we were farmers, after all). When I ask him what we’re going to do with all the vegetables and fruit he intends to plant in these spaces, he shrugs. I’m thinking I’d better start working up an appetite.

We’re all obsessed with something, I suppose. Back in our farming days, Dana passed along to me an obsession with crossword puzzles. I’m working on at least one at all times, usually two or three. I can’t bear to set aside a blank puzzle, particularly from the New York Times. (My deepest heartfelt gratitude goes out to the Seattle paper for carrying them.) And although John doesn’t at all share my infatuation, I know he secretly relishes the fact that I have to ask him for answers to clues related to sports. I have no interest in sports games yet John follows most of them, if not quite obsessively, at least with a healthy serving of gusto.

Which is why he doesn’t lose his cool when I ignore his attempts at conversation while I’m immersed in one of my puzzles. It happens almost every evening after we plop down in our easy chairs and turn on the national news. To paraphrase:

John: Wow, Ariel Castro hanged himself. I’ll bet that’s going to bring up some issues with the prison officials.

Me: Okay. What’s a two-letter abbreviation for an NFL blocker?

Still, as fixated as I can be with crossword puzzles, as compulsive as John gets with his gardens, no one — and I mean no one — is obsessed with anything as much as Pablo is obsessed with his squirrel on a stick.


He sits like this and waits. And waits. And waits a little longer until, gosh dang it, he’s forced to come out and find one of us to coax back to Primo Play Area Extraordinaire, the carpeted bedroom. Because c’mon, what could be better than a lively game of squirrel on a stick on a rug?

Nothing, that’s what.


The greatest part, in Pablo’s opinion, is the fluidity of the rules. That, and the fact that all the rules are made up by Pablo. One second we’re reaching for the squirrel, then WHAM!

face rubs

It’s time to grab that squirrel, hold it tight and sneak in a few face rubs on the elasticized string. Mmmmmm. Ahhhhh.

Good move, Pablo. Good move.

Notice the untucked sheet and blanket? That’s Pablo’s idea too (really, I swear). At a moment’s notice the game might take a sudden turn with Pablo hiding behind the covers to smack at the squirrel from UNDER THE BED. Talk about exhilarating! After it gets this intense, there’s no choice but to take a bit of a breather, a time out if you will. Relax that pink belly and let it all hang loose.

squirrel on the head

Preferably with the squirrel parked snugly on one cheek.

It’s a testament to the squirrel on a stick that the day John brought it home from Pet Town, Pablo immediately cast aside his long-time companion, the koala bear on a string.

koala bear

But cast aside he did, leaving us worried about the squirrel’s inevitable demise. See, John bought the last squirrel on a stick in the store and has since noticed there’ve been no more restocked. Eventually, Pablo will rip the current squirrel apart (its ears have been gone for some time) and we’ll be faced with the conundrum of finding him another.

We’re not letting on to Pablo. As it stands, if we ignore his demands to play some squirrel for too long, he gets pretty testy.

angry Pablo

Should the squirrel on a stick meet an untimely end, we’re a little concerned Pablo’s obsession might turn into full-out possession. As in possessed. As in

roaring lion

Man, I hope that squirrel lasts a while.


12 thoughts on “Obsession

  1. Good story, Jo. Years ago, we decided we could no longer purchase pet-store toys for our beagle because she was most obsessed with the squeakers; she would love them to death until she could swallow the plastic innards! A few years ago, I found some Bath & Body Works’ lambs that were $3 apiece in the after-Christmas bin. I bought five — one for every year of our beagle’s life expectancy (much to our kids’ horror, when they realized I’d done the math). She gets one every Christmas and can’t wait to unwrap it several times pre-season, the minute the Christmas tree goes up. She’s thirteen now, and only has one lamb left! She’s still pretty spry, too. I think I’ll be hitting up that post-season bin again in January!

    • Awwww, obviously the lamb play is keeping her spunky! Pablo is 14 and with the advent of this squirrel on a stick, I swear he’s going through his second childhood. Maybe there’s a lesson here? We should all play as much as we can — though perhaps not with squeaky toys and stuffed squirrels, exactly. It’d be difficult to continue playing after they slapped the straight jacket on.

  2. Wasnt there a relevant Beatle’s tune for the guy on the hill? You guys must be planning a cold winter with all that wood. Who stacked the wood? Great bins. Ask John why he is sitting down next time you see him. Ron wants to know. Looks like there is more work to do. Hugs.

    • Yes there sure was Ron! An appropriate song sometimes, no? We do indeed have a foolish amount of wood, in our opinion, but we’re following the instructions of the woman who lived here before us. We shall see. And you know who stacked it — that fool who never sits down!

    • It’s about time, isn’t it? He’s enjoying the heck out of being in the limelight for once. Tell Blossom he says mrrrroowwwwww.

  3. When the squirrel on a string is no longer I suggest a pencil laser. My granddaughter’s cat goes absolutely bonkers when she gets out the laser. You can just rattle the drawer where it resides and the cat is immediately there. Such fun but not much to cuttle up to when Pablo is exhausted!

    • Smart thinking! It might confuse the heck out of Pablo, but hey, that’s all part of the fun. Maybe the koala bear can regain enough favor to take over as Pablo’s time-out buddy.

  4. I just started blogging, and am having a ball with all of this. Love your writing. It’s very homey and fun to read. Also share your obsession with crossword puzzles. My John helps with history questions.

    • Thank you, fellow crossword puzzle freak! And you have a John to assist you, as well. They’re nice to have around, aren’t they?

  5. I love animals. Give them a goofy toy, say, a Squirrel on A Stick and they’re over the moon. To get a response like that from a person you’d have to hand them a big bag of $50s. And they’d still drink all your beer.

    • You’re so right. Given a choice between an animal and its human equivalent, chances are good I’d take the animal most any day. And the beer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s