I am awed and sometimes frightened by the power of nature

by Lorin Michel Saturday, May 16, 2015 7:56 PM

I’m not sure my mother has ever really understood why I choose to live in the west. Our family never strayed from the east coast until I decided that I was born to live here. I don’t know if, even now, I can articulate what drew me here but I always wanted to live in the Southwest. It had somehow always been in my soul; perhaps I was a Native American in a former life.

I’ve lived in the west since 1984, first in San Diego, then in Scottsdale, then in LA for 27 years, now Tucson, for nearly 2. One of the things I heard a lot was “aren’t you afraid of earthquakes?” I suppose I never really thought about it. I try to live in the moment and not think too much about what ifs. Like every other human being, sometimes I succumb regardless to worry and wonder, but I also actively practice the “everything happens for a reason and when it’s supposed to” mantra. Granted it can often be hard to see what the reason can possibly be. Disaster and death can be so seemingly random. Think about the person who kisses his or her loved ones goodbye in the morning with a “see you tonight” and then is killed in a car crash.

So I never worried too much about earthquakes, even after I experienced the Northridge quake in 1994. 6.8 on the Richter scale. It was terrifying but not enough to make me pack up and move. After all, every part of the country, indeed every part of the world, has their own version of disaster and most people don’t move from where they’ve made their homes. They simply clean up the mess and continue living.

I remember my dad calling me days after the quake – it took a while for phone service to resume and cell phones were not common – and saying “honey, don’t  you think it’s about time you started thinking about moving back here?” I didn’t think so and I didn’t leave, not for another 19 years and when I did it had absolutely nothing to do with earthquakes.

The awesome power of Mother Nature is always something that astounds me, something I try to respect. As human beings, we believe, foolishly, that we can somehow control our fates. That we can build towering skyscrapers near fault lines and that as long as we include the latest sway technology, those buildings will withstand a quake. Yes it will shake, sure it will sway enough to make you feel seasick, but it won’t fall.

Bullshit. We cannot build anything that truly withstands the power of nature and I am forever humbled and awed by such a fact. There is no force greater than the earth itself. We build bridges and we retro fit our homes and we believe that we are fine. And then Mother Nature clears her throat and a city is leveled in 20 seconds. Look at the poor people in Nepal, or Fukishima, or any other city that has experienced an earthquake. Look at the Midwestern towns that have been laid flat by tornados. Look at the gulf coast that has been flooded and destroyed by hurricanes. Look at avalanches and fire.

We are small and insignificant, and I embrace my miniature status.

Remnants of the storm above and beyond the hill

Last night, sometime around 2, the wind began to howl, that bracing, low roar that alternately whistles through open windows and cactus needles. Soon, rain began to fall. Actually, fall is too soft a word. It began to pound. The skylight in the bathroom sounded like it would fracture. I got up to close the windows as the rain turned to hail and hammered the deck. The winds, I found out today, were nearly 50 miles per hour. The house stood firm but the air vents screamed in agony, the deck furniture scraped and whined. I was sure the pillows from the couches would end up down in the desert, blown over the rails. The cactus bent nearly over in two before snapping up. This went on for two hours, maybe more, and I laid awake the entire time, listening, wondering and marveling. I wasn’t worried; I was awed.

Today, the sky was still overcast. The ground was still wet, the air cool. I watched as heavy clouds oozed over the hillside above and behind us. And as I watched, blue sky opened, just enough to allow the sunshine to squeeze through and bath the hill in warmth. Mother Nature had made her point and now she was feeling better. I smiled and nodded in agreement, forever humbled by this part of the world that I choose to call my home. And as I watched, I realized why I love it so much here. It’s the mystery, and the glory, of it all.

The zen of sit: Observations from outside

by Lorin Michel Saturday, January 5, 2013 8:31 PM

Guest post by Squire Squirrel

The Squire here and I’m a little dizzy. It seems that things are moving very fast around here lately and it’s enough to make a squirrel’s head spin. First there was all that celebrating that went on, with too many cars and an awful lot of people. I stayed hidden for days; it was just too scary to be out there where I could go splat and you all know how Mrs. Squirrel feels about splat. I don’t feel much better about it to tell you the truth.

There were lots of lights everywhere, too. Little lights and bigger lights and some lights that were in the shape of big animals. Those scared me at first because I didn’t quite know what to make of them. It was like there was suddenly a big twinkling deer in the neighbor’s yard only it didn’t smell like what I think a deer probably smells like. Also, it never moved.

Then there were these really big shapes that swayed in the night air. During the day they were just collapsed on the grass in a mostly white heap. It looked kind of like snow only it wasn’t. Of course, a couple of nights it was cold enough to snow. Me and Mrs. Squirrel had to huddle up real close in order to keep warm. I like huddling. Not sure the missus likes it quite as much but she was a good sport.

I sat on the grass one morning, in front of one of these collapsed things and tried to talk to it. It had been so big and sort of scary the night before, but then it looked like it got attacked or something. I wanted to know what had happened so I could be on the lookout for whatever or whoever it was. I figured if it could get to something that big, it could for sure get to something small like me. But I couldn’t get that blobby white thing to talk to me so after a few barks I gave up and started back toward the house.

That’s when the red blur came by. He spotted me and immediately he lunged and growled and barked at me, too. I went half way up the tree in the front yard since he kind of startled me and then I hung there, upside down, just looking at him. He pranced and danced and then he stopped and he stood frozen, his ears forward, his body tense. He has good form, this red knight-to-be, and he’s handsome, too. Not as handsome as the first knight, my best knight. No one will ever been that handsome, but this red furred one is a good-looking dude. He’s a little wild still. As if to prove that, Hey Kevin who was with the red furred one said “Cooper, zen.” I think he followed it up with a dammit and I chuckled. It’s hard to train a new knight. I know that better than just about any squirrel.

“Hey Kevin?” I asked, safely on the tree.

“Oh, Hey Squire,” he said followed by “Sit!”

I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean me.

“What’s up with the zen?” I asked.

“Well, he’s a nut and I thought that if we could get him to understand the idea of zen then our walks wouldn’t be quite so, well, crazy.”

I thought about that for a couple of seconds, then I turned my eye toward the one they call Cooper. He was eyeing me, too. But he was sitting. He was calm even though all of his fur seemed to be electrified. If I so much as moved a whisker, I knew he’d spring forward. So zen must mean sit. Good to know.

Cause I’ve got some work to do with this one.

Miss trees: observations from outside

by Lorin Michel Saturday, December 1, 2012 6:51 PM

Guest post by Squire Squirrel

The Squire here. It’s another wet morning in Oak Park and wet rainy mornings always make me kind of lazy. I just want to stay in the den a little longer. This morning when I finally left, Mrs. Squirrel told me to be extra careful. The trees are a little more slick than when it’s dry and I could slide and fall off. She was right. I was flying down the side wall, scampering along at my usual pace. I could see Hey Lorin in the kitchen having some coffee. I got to the corner of the wall and jumped for the tree like usual. I almost didn’t make it. I went to grab the branch and my paws started to slide off. I finally caught one of the leaves and was able to pull myself up. Phew. That was a close one. I could have gone splat on the ground.

Once I got myself composed, I decided to just hole up for a little bit. I scrunched down in the space where the branch meets the tree. It wasn’t as wet and seemed wider. Plus it’s a really great space to watch what’s going on, and here’s what I saw. A tree, going in the house.

Naturally I was sort of curious. Trees aren’t usually in the house, but this one went right in through the garage. I left my safe, dry spot, carefully made my way back to the wall and ran to the back of the house. I went down one tree, snuck across the wet grass, and spun my way back up another tree. This one has the lowest branches in the yard and I could look inside. I found myself a dry spot under some big leaves, and hunkered down to watch.

Hey Lorin put the tree into a green thing on the floor. Then she got down on the floor, too, and had these screw things she was turning. The red-furred one they call Cooper was sitting on the rug, just watching. I could tell he didn’t quite understand why there was a tree in the house. His head was cocked to one side and his ears were really far forward. You could just see him trying to understand. He must not have ever had a tree in the other houses where he lived before he lived here with Hey Kevin and Hey Lorin.

Hey Lorin was talking to him, telling him what was going on. I couldn’t hear everything because the windows were closed because it’s kind of cold and rainy but I’m pretty sure she said it’s a miss tree. Hmmmm. I figured that was probably about right. A tree in the house would sure be missed by the outside trees. It’s also a miss because it doesn’t really belong in the house. I don’t think it’s a girl tree, though, so it’s not that kind of miss. Can trees be boys or girls? I’ll have to look that one up.

Anyway, the red-furred one kept sitting on the rug and watching and Hey Lorin started putting these long strings of things on the miss tree, wrapping them around. They were very bright, like a million tiny white lights. They were actually really pretty and I was pretty intrigued by it all. Then I heard a crash from the front of the house so I had to go investigate that.

Back down along the wall, but this time, I didn’t just jump onto the tree. I went down the front of the wall, and then up the tree and to the roof over the house so I could see what was happening. Hey Kevin was out there, on a ladder, hanging more tiny white lights on the front of the house. He wasn’t very happy about it either.

When he saw me, he nodded. Hey Squire.

Hey Kevin. What are you doing?

Hanging miss lights. That’s what he said.

I looked around the neighborhood and some of the other houses seemed to have these pretty little lights on their houses, too. I saw a car go by with a tree on top and I wondered if it was a miss tree, too, and if it was going in somebody else’s house. I didn’t recognize the car but I don’t know all the cars in the neighborhood, just the ones that try to run over me.

Miss lights and miss trees. Seems like there is an awful lot of miss happening around here. It’s kind of pretty. Maybe I’ll even get a miss tree for the den. Mrs. Squirrel would like that.

Oh what a knight: observations from outside

by Lorin Michel Saturday, November 10, 2012 8:30 PM

Guest post by Squire Squirrel

The Squire here and can I just say that I’m pretty worn out? Trying to get this new knight-wanna-be in any kind of shape to even begin his extensive training is tiring. I can’t even get the guy to look at me. He’s so obsessed with what’s down that he has yet to look up. It’s frustrating. I don’t remember this with the actual knight, the real knight, the big dog.

Let me tell you what’s happening. It shouldn’t take long, because it’s essentially nothing. Oh, he’s cute and all. I actually kind of like his red fur cause it’s a little like mine and I’ve always been proud of the reddishness of my fur coat. My mother, Madam Squirrel, use to tell me that she thought we must be descended from the great Irish squirrels of the 16th century. Back then, when the Celts ruled on the isle so green, squirrels were their constant companions. Sometimes they were also dinner. I never liked that part. But that’s why we squires immigrated to this country. According to legend, or at least my mom, it happened quite by accident when Old Squire Squirrel the first and his soon-to-be missus Old Squire Squirrel were squirreling around near the water. Some horses rode up and Old Squire decided they needed to take cover “lest they get et.”

That’s old-time Squire speak for somebody was going to be on the menu.

So Old Squire and his soon-to-be missus jumped onto some big wooden thing to hide. It was a boat. Next thing they knew they were someplace else where they decided to stay. Eventually there was Old Squire the 82nd and he and his Mrs. Old Squire caught a ride to the Americas, their kids traveled west in somebody’s wagon and that’s how we got here.

The Squire ancestors were all assigned to a knight. It’s in our blood. That’s how I got to be the knight’s squire. He was a good knight, too. Very stoic, very powerful. Toward the end, all he had to do was use his eyes and whoever he was looking at started to quiver. Of course, that’s really all he could use, his eyes. He was kind of old but still strong and he was still a great knight. I did good by him, I think. I was always there to tell him when some other element was flying in, like birds or that big red hawk that sometimes drops by. When he comes, I high-tail it for my den in a big time hurry. I don’t have any desire to be his dinner – to be ‘et’ – any more than the original Old Squire wanted to be. I always told the Knight “in coming!” before I scurried though.

Some knights might have said I was cowardly, but the knight, my knight, he understood. I mean, I’m not that big and I’d fit pretty easily into that hawk’s beak.

Now there is the knight-to-be. He is still a little wet behind the ears. A nutbag, whatever that is. I hear Hey Lorin calling him that all the time, like “Hey, nutbag, what are you doing out there?” She says it really nice and sweet, too, like she thinks he’s cute. I think he’s a little bit crazy, running around outside. He even chases that never-will-be-a-knight-no-way-no-how Kobe along the side of the house. They can’t even see each other but they run back and forth and bark up a storm, raising such a ruckus, it’s like to bring Old Squire back from squirrel heaven.

Me, this morning. See my red fur?

Hey Kevin was out on the patio this morning, huddled up in his bathrobe while the red knight-to-be ran around the yard looking for a tree. Never looked up once. Hey Kevin did though.

“Hey Squire,” he said. I could see his breath. It was really cold this morning. I like it when it’s cold. I like how my fur gets thicker. It makes me look bigger and tougher.

“Hey Kevin. How’s he doing?”

“He’s good. But he’s definitely a nutbag.”

I asked what a nutbag was since I’d heard them say that and it didn’t sound like they were actually talking about nuts in a bag. Personally, I like nuts. So I was thinking that I might like a nutbag.

After Kevin described what he meant – that he was just fun and crazy and had a lot of energy – I nodded.  Those are all good traits in a knight-to-be. Then they went inside and I watched the red knight swoosh his tail and trot in to see Hey Lorin. I nodded again. I do that a lot when I’m thinking. I think I’m going to like this nutbag.

OK. Gotta squirrel. The missus is calling. I think she’s making something with nuts for breakfast. Like I said, I like nuts. I like nutbags.

Waitin’ all night for Satur-day: observations from outside

by Lorin Michel Saturday, November 3, 2012 11:08 PM

Guest post by Squire Squirrel

The Squire here. For some reason, I have that song in my head, the one that gets sung on Sunday nights when Hey Kevin watches that game where there’s a bunch of big guys running around in really tight colorful outfits. Sometimes he yells: “what are you DOING?!” That’s usually when somebody called the Bears is playing. Hey Lorin yells when those guys from someplace called the Patriots are playing.

There’s a really pretty blonde lady who comes out and sings about waiting all day for Sunday night. Hey Kevin stands in front of the TV and watches her. He doesn’t say anything the whole time she’s singing. It’s like he’s a statue of something. It’s kind of funny. I always chuckle a little. Hey Lorin teases him about how much he likes faith. I didn’t even think Hey Kevin was a religious guy.

Anyway, I had that song in my head this morning as I was walking across the wall before I jumped up onto my favorite branch. Waitin’ all day…. Except that I was thinking about waitin’ all night for Satur-day. It’s a catchy song. I think it’s sort of like “I hate myself for loving you.” That’s a song by Joan Jett from like a really, really long time ago. I don’t know much about music but I kind of like that song, or at least the Sunday night version.

But this morning, I heard Hey Kevin singing it. And it was “waitin’ all night for Satur-day.” And then he sang something like “Mom and dad are the best in OP.” And I couldn’t figure out what he was talking or singing about. I heard a little jingle jangle from the vicinity of their bedroom and I sort of stretched out, wondering just what was going on. Then all of a sudden the door opened and out shot this red-furred knight in training, followed by Hey Kevin in his bathrobe. This red guy ran straight toward the tree I was hanging in, literally, and then he pee’d. Didn’t even look up. Hey Kevin did, though. He looked up at me and said:

“Hey Squire.”

“Hey Kevin. What’s with the red one?”

“This is Cooper. He’s going to be living with us.”

“Cooper.” Hmmmm. “Is he taking the place of the knight?” I couldn’t believe I was asking it but I don’t want anyone to take the knight’s place. He was my liege; I was his squire. We were a couple of guys in the backyard. I’m not ready to let that go.

“Not taking his place,” Hey Kevin said. “No body could ever take his place. He was our most special boy. But Cooper is the new generation; he’s the next guy. He needs a good home and we wanted to give it to him. I hope you two will get along.”

I huffed a bit. I’m not sure I want to get along. But as I gazed down at this hyper mass of wanna-be, I thought, well, maybe it would be OK to have a new knight I could train, that I could serve. It wouldn’t be the same, but it could be different.

I nodded. Hey Kevin nodded. Hey Cooper pee’d again and then raced back toward the house.

“He’s going to need some work,” I said.

“He is,” said Hey Kevin, and then they both went back inside, with Hey Kevin singing his new song.

I’m not sure about this but I’ll give it a try. I may hate myself for liking you, but if Hey Kevin and Hey Lorin think Hey Cooper is OK, then I’ll sing along.

Besides, I’ve been waiting all night for satur-day. The tough get rough in a big-time way. The last one standin’ gets to turn on the play, cause I been waitin’ all night for Satur-day. 

A misunderstanding about mayonnaise: observations from outside

by Lorin Michel Saturday, October 13, 2012 10:20 PM

Guest post by Squire Squirrel

The Squire here, perched above the open garage door and peering over and down so I can see what’s going on. I heard a bunch of crashing and banging earlier. At first I thought maybe something bad had happened but then I realized that Hey Kevin was in the garage and there tends to be crashing and banging when he’s in there. Also sawing. I don’t like sawing. It makes my teeth hurt.

So here I am, just hanging around and watching. The big red car is in the driveway already and the little black one is sort of half in and half out of the garage. That’s the car I hear Hey Lorin asking about all the time; “when is it going to get fixed?” It’s a cute car and it has a really big engine noise. It always kind of scares me but not that much, especially when I realize what it is. Vroom, it goes. Shhhh, I go. And then I put my paws in my ears. I haven’t had to do that in a while, actually. I wonder, too, when it’s going to get fixed even though I don’t really care all that much.

Hey Kevin is busy pulling all kinds of stuff out of a big cabinet. There are some jars and some stirring kind of sticks and brushes on long pieces of wire. There are some empty wine bottles and more big glass bottles. There are also pictures. Hey Kevin pulls out one picture and he starts to laugh. Later, when Hey Lorin came home, he showed it to her and she laughed too. It was a picture of him when he was in high school with something called a Packard. I don’t know what a Packard is but I guess it must be funny. I wonder if it makes loud noises.

Me above the garage

Hey Lorin had been gone for a little while but now she’s coming back with a cup of coffee. She was walking and she says Hey Squire and I say Hey Lorin as she walks underneath me and goes into the house as she tells Hey Kevin that she’ll be right out. I hear the hair dryer. I think she must have gotten a hair cut because her hair did look sort of wet. Pretty soon she comes back out and that’s when Hey Kevin shows her the picture and they laugh. He shows her some other stuff he found, too, and they decide that some of it they can keep and some of it they should throw away. I’m watching the whole thing. It’s like seeing one of those TV shows where people are always sort of pawing through junk and suddenly finding something like a really old copper pot that’s worth like a gazillion bucks. I don’t know what gazillion is other than a lot and bucks, I’m pretty sure, are money. Or deer.

Hey Kevin asks how she likes her hair and she says good and then he asks if she’s feeling any better and she says that she isn’t as down as she’d been earlier in the week. That the mayonnaise has passed.

I like mayonnaise. I have it every once in a while when I find part of a tuna fish sandwich or something. It has kind of a sweet and smooth taste. I don’t like too much but a little is always good for flavor. I didn’t know that feeling down had anything to do with mayonnaise and so I hang down even further, off the garage, until they look at me.

Why did you pass mayonnaise, I say.

And Hey Kevin starts to laugh out and Hey Lorin smiles this really big smile and then she says she was talking about malaise. She even spells it for me; that’s how I get it right. I hang there for a minute and then say OK even though I don’t get it.

It’s OK, Squire, Hey Lorin says like she is trying to reassure me. Getting rid of malaise is a good thing.

I say OK again and then I hear Mrs. Squirrel calling me for lunch so I say Bye! and then high-tail it up the roof, down the other side, across the second tree to the left and then squirrel into the den, all the time wondering if malaise would be good on a sandwich, too. I make a mental note to ask some time. 

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Walk and talk: observations from outside

by Lorin Michel Saturday, September 22, 2012 10:07 PM

Guest post by Squire Squirrel

The squire here, watching the world go by from the usual spot. Actually, I’m watching the people of the neighborhood go by. People around here sure do walk a lot, and when they do, they talk. I like to listen though a lot of times all I really can hear are certain words. “What?” “Today.” “Coffee.” “Did you watch…” “Sky.” “Where…” “Tomorrow.” “Joe.” “Tennis.” “Pavilions.” “Bank.” I think they’re saying something about today and tomorrow and playing tennis and going to the bank where there is coffee and sky.

But I can’t be sure.

Hey Kevin and Hey Lorin call this the walk and talk. It’s something that started a long time ago with some writer guy who did a TV show called The West Wing. I wasn’t around then but I know they were big fans of whatever it was and really got to like when people walk and talk at the same time. Maybe because people who walk and talk don’t waste time, and sometimes they say interesting things. Or at least they do on TV. I don’t do much of the walk and talk mostly because I don’t walk. I scurry. Scurrying is much more efficient especially in trees and along walls. And most especially when crossing the street. That can be really scary. I sometimes start across the street and then think I hear something and stop dead in my tracks. Mrs. Squirrel doesn’t like when I stop dead. She doesn’t like that word because that means splat, and splat is bad for a squirrel. It’s also bad for a person.

Hey Kevin and Hey Lorin walk all the time. They're usually talking before they even leave the house. I can hear them and then they're still talking when they get back and go back in the house. I wonder sometimes how they can have so much to talk about but I think it's pretty cool.

Me, watching the walk and talk

Walk and talk was on a pretty funny video this week. I didn't see it but I heard Hey Lorin say it was The West Wing. I thought we were sort of the west wing because we're in California but I don't think that's what she was talking about.

Here come the people that live in the house behind ours. They’re really old, like at least 85, at least that’s what Hey Lorin thinks. They don’t speak much English but they shuffle through the neighborhood talking in a language I don’t understand. They hold hands and they’re really cute. I hope me and Mrs. Squirrel get to be old and still hold paws when we’re scurrying along the back wall. 

The older couple walks around the corner just as two ladies walk by. They walk by a lot, almost always in the morning. Hey Kevin calls one Jane. I don't think that's her name but Hey Kevin has names for a lot of people. Jane talks really quiet and sort of mumbles. Jane and this other lady are talking – I can see their mouths moving – but their voices are really sort of like a hum.

I like when people walk by together and talk. I also like when people walk by alone and stop to talk. They don’t stop to talk to me, probably because they don’t see me because I try to blend in. They always stopped to talk to the Knight. He liked to be in the front yard, especially if Hey Kevin or Hey Lorin, or even if Hey Justin was out there. He liked to watch the world walk by and he really liked when people would stop and talk to him. He would wag his tail. Sometimes he wouldn’t even get up, especially if he was really tired. But the tail would slap against the ground and people would rough up his ears and talk to him.

Sometimes people stop by now just to say hi and ask Hey Kevin what he’s working on in the garage because Hey Kevin is always working on something. Some people don't say anything to anybody. I always wonder if they're shy or just not very nice.

Nobody who stops by has asked about the knight. I think that's weird and I know it bothers Hey Lorin. She thinks it's rude.

I think it's just people not really knowing what to say. People like to talk about nothing with people they don't really know. Otherwise the conversation gets too heavy and makes people uncomfortable. People like to be comfortable. That’s why they also wear special shoes. I guess if something is uncomfortable, walking while talking is good because then you don’t have to look at the other person. 

It's also good for just going forward.

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The signs are there: observations from outside

by Lorin Michel Monday, September 10, 2012 8:05 PM

Guest post by Squire Squirrel

The Squire here. I know I usually do my guest post on Saturdays but I was busy this Saturday at a squirrelage sale. Mrs. Squirrel and me always see people here in the neighborhood having a sale right outside their garage doors so we thought we’d have our sale right outside the den. Hey Kevin and Hey Lorin have had a bunch of garage sales. They always start at like 6 or 6:30 and I’m always kind of amazed that there are actually people out shopping that early. But there are, and there are a bunch of them. I think it must be the signs.

There are all kinds of signs around here lately. This weekend there were the usual Garage Sale signs. They’re usually hand written and taped to the light posts with that gray tape they use to tape ducks. I’ve never really understood why anybody needs to tape ducks but whatever. As long as they don’t start taping squirrels, I’m good.

The thing with Garage Sale signs is that they get people to come and that’s good because when people come to a sale they buy stuff. But then a lot of people forget to take their signs down and it just makes the neighborhood look kind of trashy. When Hey Justin lived here, he went out one morning when they were having a garage sale and put up signs at like 5:30. He was still a pup then; he maybe even took the Knight with him. Pretty soon there were people pulling up in front of the house and Hey Kevin and Hey Lorin were still in bed. I heard Hey Justin come into their room and say “Hey dad! There are people already here for the garage sale!” After that, and after Hey Kevin and Hey Lorin explained that “we always get the stuff out of the garage and into the driveway before we put up signs,” Hey Justin was better about making sure that he was prepared. He always liked garage sales.

The other signs I’ve seen around are Lemonade Stand signs. Little pups will sit on the corner in front of a little table while other pups yell at all the cars going by to stop and buy something to drink. I watched them from the tree the other day. They were really cute and they did get some people to stop and have some standing lemons. I don’t like lemons. They make my mouth get all squirrely.

Then there are Estate Sale signs. I can’t quite figure those out since they’re here in the same place as the regular garage sales and I always thought estates were like really big. These houses are nice but they’re not really big. Of course, they’re bigger than my den but I don’t need much space since it’s just the missus and me, and besides, I’m a squirrel.

Some houses have For Sale signs so I guess they’re selling the whole house and not just the garage. Hey Kevin and Hey Lorin have a sign in their front yard now that’s blue and has this circle rainbow kind of thing on it. They put it up last week after they were watching something called a convention. I guess when you watch a convention, you have to have a sign that says so. I didn’t watch the convention so I don’t have to put up a sign. That’s good. I don’t really have any room anyway.

There are Street signs and No Parking signs and don’t-even-think-about-driving-fast-because-there-are-kids-here signs. I like the signs that are actually written on the road in really big white letters. Sometimes they say there’s a “hump ahead” and sometimes they say there’s a “bump ahead.” I don’t know what the difference is since they’re both like little mounds of road and they’re both ahead instead of behind. I think they’re both really just a bump in the road, and bumps in the road can slow you down. If you go over them too fast, the bottom of the car gets all scraped. It’s sort of like life, I guess. If you slow down for the bump, you can get over it easy. If you go too fast, the bump makes it harder.

I think I’ll stick with the sign Mrs. Squirrel and I put up. It just says “the nut house.” I think nuts are really good and should be shared, kind of like life. So I guess that makes it a sign of life. Because if the signs are there, you have to show up. Right? 

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Back to school: observations from outside

by Lorin Michel Saturday, August 25, 2012 9:37 PM

Guest post by Squire Squirrel

The squire here, coming to you live and in-squirrel on Saturday from the corner of Hey Kevin’s house in the backyard. I feel like I should have a microphone and a film crew. That’s what the guys on the news have. I watch the news sometimes, looking in through the screen door when it’s dark and Hey Kevin and Hey Lorin have gone to bed and have the TV on. They watch something called Eyewitness News 7, and I can hear them making funny comments about some of the stories. That makes it hard for me to hear what’s going on. I’d say Shhhhhh but I’m not sure they’d hear me and I don’t know what it would sound like cause I’m, you know, a squirrel.

I wonder if Shhhhhh is one of those universal language words. I’ll have to try it next time.

I liked the stories this week about the kids going back to school. There seem to be a lot of happy parents out there who are counting the days until their pups go back into something called a classroom. I think the parents are kind of tired of the kids not doing very much and sometimes getting into trouble. The parents don’t even seem to mind spending money, they’re so excited about the kids going back. I just like watching all of them walk by in the morning with their backpacks on their backs or wheels which actually makes them wheelpacks I guess.

When Hey Justin lived here, his parents always liked it when he went back to school cause it gave him something to do during the day and even at night. Now that Hey Justin doesn’t live here, the back to school thing doesn’t seem as popular. At least not until this morning.

Hey Lorin was still sleeping but Hey Kevin was already out in his house doing something on his computer. Hey Lorin likes to sleep in a little on Saturday but Hey Kevin isn’t a very good sleeper, not like Hey Lorin. I was already up, too, cause I don’t sleep very good in the morning. Mrs. Squirrel, however, could sleep like All. Day. Long.

Hey Kevin came outside with a cup of coffee. He looked up and saw me and nodded his head. “Hey Squire,” he said. Hey Kevin.

Then his cell phone rang but he didn’t have it with him. It must have still be in the bedroom cause I heard Hey Lorin yell HEY KEVY and then Hey Kevin said “what?” and she said “your phone just rang but I couldn’t find it in time to answer it. Maybe it was Justin.”

It was. I heard the message. I think it said something like “Hey dad, it’s me. I’m putting my bed together and I think I might be missing some parts.” I told you they all say “hey” a lot. So then there was a very long conversation about the bed and something called hardware. I always thought a bed was supposed to be soft. They were on the phone for a really long time, with Hey Kevin now in the house and sitting on the stairs and Hey Lorin still in bed but awake and listening to the conversation like me. When Hey Kevin asked her she had looked under the bed to make sure they had gotten all the hardware, she got up and went upstairs. Pretty soon I heard her say that there was nothing under the bed and there was nothing in the closet either. Then she came back down and got her own cup of coffee.

I don’t know what she was looking for under the bed. Usually stuff under the bed is kind of scary. But whatever it was wasn’t there anyway and pretty soon I heard Hey Justin say (cause he was on the speaker phone) “Oh!” like he was really excited. Then he said something like “Great! OK. Thanks, dad. Love ya!” and Hey dad/Kevin said “love you, too. Good luck with school,” and then I remembered that it was back to school for him too, even though he isn’t here anymore.

I sort of miss seeing him trudge off on the first day. But it’s good that he’s in college and learning stuff and stuff like that. I guess back to school means moving forward and making progress.

I heard Hey Lorin say that she kinda misses the kid, and Hey Kevin smiled and said, yeah, he does, too. Then they were quiet and then said “ok. So what do you want to do today?” Back to school has everybody moving forward I guess even when you’re missing somebody. 

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live out loud

Here's what I know: observations from outside

by Lorin Michel Saturday, August 11, 2012 10:36 PM

Guest post by Squire Squirrel

The squire here, just pondering on life in general and people in particular on this very hot Saturday. Usually on a Saturday, I'm leaping between trees, looking for fun things to steal and eat, stopping every once in a while to have a quick chat with a buddy over a drink of sprinkler-puddle. But I just don't have the energy today - plus all the puddles have already disappeared - so I'm hanging in my favorite tree out in the front yard, the big maple with the really big leaves that rustle around me in the breeze and also keep me covered in all kinds of shade. It's not cool but it's comfortable.

Here's what I know:
That when it's hot, people don't like to do anything but stay inside and complain.

That the girl that lives across the street with the little white car seems to have a lot of accidents.

That some people yell for no good reason but that others yell because they're trying to make a point. If you have to yell about it, maybe it's not worth making.

That the lady with the big-time skinny dog yells at her kids all the time especially outside in the driveway.

That dirty laundry is something kids bring home from college or from their apartment. Also that they only wash their cars when their dad says "are you ever going to wash that thing or do I have to do it for you?" Sometimes the kids hand over the keys with a big grin.

That some people are nice and always say hello and wave even when they don't know your name and that others try to run you over.

Me, in the tree, on a hot Saturday

That birds are noisy and don't like to share but that they fly.

That butterflies are free, at least once they stop being caterpillars.

That Dairy Queen isn't actually ice cream but that it melts just as fast and that when it does, it's very tasty. Also, sticky. Hey Kevin used to work at a Dairy Queen when he was a pup. He calls it DQ and he always has a big smile on his face when he talks about it, like he liked working there.

That some people like to work and some people really don't but that everyone has to. Some people, like Hey Lorin, actually like what they do for work and would do it even if they didn't have to which is crazy since it's practically a rule. She calls that a perfect world.

That Cher is kind of fun when she's turning back time. I always liked that song.

That I still really miss my Knight. He was such a big bear of a dude and he used to give me such a hard time when he and I were just pups. Then he got older and he didn't run around as much. It seemed to make him almost smarter. He'd say to me, when we were both out in the backyard and he was down on the ground and I was up in the tree, he'd say: "Squire, here's what I know. When you pick out good people, you can have a good life that almost always includes cheese."

That a perfect world isn't actually possible but that a perfect puddle, a perfect song, a perfect melted DQ and a perfect memory are.

There's the breeze again, moving through my fur and around my ears. That's kind of perfect on a hot day, too. Later it will not be as hot and dogs will get to go for walks and I'll get to watch them and wonder what it's like to walk with a string attached.

Here's what I know about that: when strings are attached, it can be hard to do everything you want. But sometimes doing everything you want isn't what's best. Also, strings hold things together and together is better than apart. That's what I know today.

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