Patsy Porco

A Gangster of Geese

In Humor on August 20, 2022 at 2:25 am

In July, I moved to a house with a big pond in the front yard. All along the same street, there are ponds in people’s yards. Up and down the road, you’ll spot ponds. Next to one of these ponds, you will see a flock of geese standing around, or most likely, relieving themselves on the grass or driveway next to the pond.

When they swim, they’re a gaggle of geese. However, if they’re flying, they’re a skein. Once they’re flying, there are lots of words to describe their formations, like chevron.

It’s interesting to read the descriptive terms for groups of birds. A murder of crows is the most well-known. A murder of geese would be more apt, though, if you’ve ever had to go outside and sweep the bird dung off your driveway. Or, if your dog decided that the droppings looked delicious.

There are all kinds of names for groups of birds: a charm of hummingbirds or goldfinches; a staring of owls; a covey of quail; a chattering of starlings; a party or band of jays; a wedge of swans; a raft of ducks; a host of sparrows; a flight of swallows; an exaltation of larks. A staring of owls is the most apt, I think.

What I want to know is who sat around and came up with all of these slightly mad names for groups of birds? Obviously a terror of retirees … or a palace of drunk/high people.

But, let’s get back to my original topic. I said earlier that there were many ponds in my neighborhood, but if you spotted the geese, they would be in front of one pond. That is because this very large flock of geese is treating the neighborhood like a pub crawl. One day they’ll be at my pond. Then they’ll all decide to walk, en masse, across the busy street — despite the fact that they flew hundreds or thousands of miles to get here — to another pond.

They love stopping traffic. When I hear them honking, I just know the leader has just announced that it’s time to find another person’s property to defecate on, and all of the follower geese are agreeing that that is a wonderful idea, but only if they get to walk to their next destination.

Besides being jerks, geese are mean, too. I got too close to one and it hissed at me. I’ve heard of geese attacking people who’ve annoyed them. They love to intimidate people. If they were human, they’d be gangsters or enforcers. I learned to keep my distance from them, but sometimes it’s hard, and not just because I’m perverse. It’s tempting to try to shoo them off the property. But, once geese have decided that your pond is where they are spending the day, as a flock or a gaggle, you might as well give in and locate your broom for the next day. They will leave piles everywhere. Relieving themselves is like a job for them, and they are very good at their job.

When I lived in Connecticut, we had a town beach that was overrun by geese. It was very tricky walking across the grass in the park to the sand on the beach because the geese had transformed the lawn into their toilet. This year, the town installed blue lights that were designed to keep the geese away. They worked wonderfully. The geese relocated across the park to the softball field.

I looked into geese deterrents for my property. Those blue lights are expensive, but I discovered a cheaper solution: grape Kool-Aid. There is something in grape Kool-Aid that they hate. I’m in a quandary, though. The house I live in belongs to my brother and his wife. If I put grape Kool-Aid around the perimeter of the pond, some of it will be bordering his white driveway. When it rains, the Kool-Aid will stain the driveway purple. I can’t decide whether I should risk my brother’s wrath at the mess in his driveway, though.

I have nowhere else to live … unlike the geese, who will eventually go home to Canada to annoy the nice Canadians.

Photo by Robert Franklin, South Bend Tribune, March 29, 2022

Adding Fuel to the Fire

In Humor on September 5, 2022 at 1:24 am

Everybody knows not to throw water on a grease fire. We either learned that from a grisly first-hand experience, or from a friendly fireman who visited our grade school and instructed us on what not to throw on fires, and told us to “tuck and roll,” or something like that, if we were suddenly surrounded by flames. We were also told by the fireman to feel doors before we opened them during a fire, and to go home and tell our parents to design an escape plan from our houses and have the whole family practice it. I don’t recall getting any cooperation at home on that front, however.

As children, we are given a lot of instruction on safety. It was probably our parents or teachers who taught us to yell “stranger” at the top of our lungs at all unknown passersby who happened to look our way. In the mid-1960s, we learned to sit along the walls in our school’s corridor, with our heads covered by our hands and arms, in order to survive an atom bomb attack. It was guaranteed to work.

When I was growing up in Northeast Philadelphia in the 1960s and early 1970s, there were men who drove trucks with amusement rides hitched to the back. The rides were surrounded by steel mesh. Inside the enclosure were colorfully painted cars that spun around on tracks, or sometimes the truck held a mini Ferris Wheel. For safety’s sake, the seats on the Ferris Wheel were inside large metal buckets that had a top, sides, steel mesh windows, and a door that locked. Kids lined up to pay their dimes and enter the ride area. My mother would never let us participate. She said that the driver could easily take off with a mesh container of kids. I never believed her, though. I thought she was being cheap. Now that I’m older, I think she was very wise, and maybe a little cheap.

But, back to fires. I know not to throw water on a grease fire. However, nobody ever mentioned that water shouldn’t be used on gas grill flames. I figured that out today, all on my own.

I had put burgers on the gas grill and while they cooked, it started to rain. The lid was closed, but I had to open it in order to flip the burgers. Just as I lifted the lid, the rain became torrential. The rain hit the grill and the flames shot up into the sky. I knew I should shut the lid immediately, but the burgers had to be flipped first or they would burn. I needn’t have worried. When the flames became a solid wall against the inside of the grill’s lid, the burgers cooked at an unusually fast rate and became rock-solid burnt hockey pucks in seconds. I finally closed the lid. As soon as the rain let up a little, I took the burgers off the grill and told my family that they were charbroiled.

They didn’t fall for it. Even the dog wouldn’t touch the burgers. We filled up on corn and other side dishes. I distributed ice cream cones after dinner to mitigate the taste of burnt meat.

You know, I can never die, because I’m still learning things that others consider common sense. Maybe I should have paid better attention to the friendly fireman.

I don’t know who to credit for this photo. I found it on Pinterest.

Secret Ingredients

In Food, Humor on August 27, 2022 at 12:23 am

Cooking is dangerous. I burn my arms in the oven and my hands on the pots. I invariably grate my fingernails along with the cheese, and sometimes it’s hard to avoid dripping blood from a cut finger into my ingredients. I always cut my finger when I’m chopping vegetables.

Maybe I have so many accidents because I don’t like cooking. I have a friend who finds the prep work therapeutic and the cooking satisfying. I think she might have a mental problem.

I’ve been using meal kits recently. I usually order three meals per week and wing it the rest of the week. I really like having all of the ingredients and recipes on hand. The kits are expensive but you can’t put a price on not having to shop or plan meals. Well, you can, actually. It’s about $40 for a meal for four, which feeds three quite nicely. That’s approximately $13 per meal, which is reasonable enough, but I still have to feed my family the other four days, so what’s the point?

I’ve tried three different meal kit services. The third one was the best. It had top-notch ingredients and delicious recipes … and a hefty price tag. The first one was bargain basement. The meals were good, but inexpensive vegetables were commonly used, and one can only eat so much zucchini. The recipes were exotic, though, which was nice … occasionally. There were lots of noodle and rice bowls with fried eggs on top. I never understood the fried eggs. The second kit I tried was a disaster. The packers threw all of the ingredients into the box willy nilly, and the produce rarely survived the trip from the warehouse to my house without wilting or rotting. Worst of all, there were no recipe cards. I had to get the recipes online. Have you ever tried cooking a complicated meal while reading the recipe from your laptop or phone? My laptop would go into sleep mode constantly so I was always pressing the cursor pad with greasy fingers to bring the screen back. Grease-covered computer keys are not covered under my warranty.

I suppose I’ll go back to grocery shopping and meal planning. I’ll have to stop off at the pharmacy first, though, for Band-Aids … and a nail file.

Can you find the fingernail?

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