Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chicken Head: A Drama In Three Acts





The ants that arrived in April are still here, by the way. After allowing them to feel at home for a few weeks, hoping they'd disinvite themselves, we finally brought out the big guns. First we polished up the counters. Then we cleaned the cabinets. Then we pulled out the drawers and took everything out and cleaned that. The ants kept coming back, so we sprayed them with Windex. They kept coming, so we bought ant traps. That didn't work, so we mashed them with tiny hammers. That didn't work, so we poured little pots of boiling oil on them. That didn't work, so we killed some and put their heads on tiny little pikes all over the kitchen. No matter what we did, they kept coming back and coming back, like The Eagles.

Which reminds me of BP and its oil gusher.

First they fluttered their hands and hoped it would heal itself. Then they poured golf balls and plastic into the hole. Then they tried to smother it with mud. Then they cut the pipe off and scrubbed it up so it flowed more abundantly. Then they dropped a house on it, an idea that still had traction from the Wicked Witch of the East incident. Then they tried mopping up oil on the shoreline with live pelicans. Then they announced that plugging the leak might take a while. August, maybe. Or something like August. Like, maybe, never. By early June, they had finally succeeded in stemming the flow of hope.

Which reminds me of the New Carissa.

The New Carissa was a ship that foundered off the southern coast of Oregon in 1999. There had been a storm coming up, and she had anchored off shore, if by "anchored" we mean bobbing a fifty-foot weight in a 100-foot sea. Folks were concerned. They tried to re-float her and get her going under her own power, but the local tug couldn't make it over the bar. A more substantial tug was held up in Astoria for four days, while the New Carissa continued to dig in closer to shore. Then she busted up and commenced to leak oil. Folks were concerned.

So they set her on fire. Using 36 shaped charges, 2280 liters of napalm, and 180 kg of plastic explosives, they succeeded in burning one tank for 33 hours, but the other remained unscathed. And then she busted in two. Folks were concerned.

Nearly a month later, they were able to tow just the bow section out to sea with the hope of sinking it into oblivion, but the tow line snapped, and half of the New Carissa poinked onto shore again 80 miles north in Waldport. Within a week it was re-towed out to sea and sunk in nearly two miles of water, where, whatever it is doing, we can't hear it (la la la la la). No one was taking any chances. They used a destroyer and a submarine equipped with 400 lbs of high explosives, 69 rounds of gunfire, and a torpedo to simultaneously sink the bow and serve as a stern warning (har) to the grounded section back in Coos Bay, which nevertheless continues to leak. Thousands of sea and shore birds were fatally oiled, including hundreds of murres, which I should not take personally, but I do.

Which reminds me of Lady and the chicken head.

Lady was my uncle's dog, a sweet girl, and I loved playing with her when we vacationed at the farm in North Dakota. She and I were following my uncle around one day when, without warning, he snatched up a chicken and lopped its head off. My four-year-old city heart was shocked and inconsolable, and Lady tried to cheer me up with the chicken head, missing the mark by quite a lot. So Uncle Cliff buried the head, but the next day Lady bounded up to me with the soiled head, which was then buried deeper. Every new day, Lady showed up with an increasingly grisly gift. By the end of the week, I was seeing that dog as just another bad-news bitch with a mouthful of garbage.

Which reminds me of Sarah Palin. Who recently blamed the BP oil fiasco on environmentalists.

Which I should not take personally, but I do.

30 comments:

  1. Wonderful flow, great story(ies).

    Now do a YouTube search for "The front fell off" and watch one of the funniest oil-disaster interviews ever done.

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  2. Yes. Well written. Thank you!

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  3. I love this. Such a great connection made from one to the other. But rather worried that you can even think of Sarah Palin without wanting to heave.

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  4. We get the little "sugar ants" every year as well. We found this syrupy stuff that comes in a tiny bottle; you pour a drop on a 1/2" piece of cardboard and the little guys lap it up and bring it home like liquid KFC. They feed it to their friends and... they're gone!

    I remember the New Carissa and what a botch job that was. There was a super-tug in Seattle that does nothing but pull ships off shoals. It goes out, sets these huge anchors, then winches the ship to deeper water while they dredge around and under the ship. I remember the interviews on the news at the time... the owners of that tug said nobody ever called them. That operation was as stupid as when they dynamited the dead whale in Florence in 1970. Remember that one?

    Ok, so the teachable moment here is that burning down your house WILL indeed rid it of ants. Try other methods first, though.

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  5. I always have to remember to buckle my seat belt when touring the world with you.

    Those damn environmentalists -- always screwing things up.

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  6. I KNOW, Jerry, I KNOW!
    Frank: great youtube, there. It seemed so likely.
    And Robert: DO I remember the exploding whale in Florence? Like it was yesterday. Or, more accurately, last year in Murrmurrs.

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  7. Fantastic, as usual! Recent scientific reports declaring that Neanderthal genes are shared with us doesn't surprise me at all. Sarah Palin has none of the physical attributes but certainly posesses the mental attibutes.

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  8. I'm out of breath from that one, bravo!

    Whatever ultimately works to plug the hole, they should try it on Sarah too. She's a gusher.

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  9. Just another bad news bitch? Ain't it just the truth!
    Oh dear--just what I needed on a foggy PA morning in the middle of a mournful week.

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  10. Oh, I so loved this. Thank you.

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  11. I like how you think and your final reminder was shocking. You'd that such a claim would be funny, but it didn't strike me that way.

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  12. Just when I start to think that human evolution is indded true, you parade out 10,000 idiots in one post—and that doesn't count the one super-idiot.

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  13. It doesn't include Uncle Cliff, either. He was a sweetheart. He just wanted chicken for dinner.

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  14. This post was a Wild Mouse, and I hung on for the whole ride, and now I have that stupid smile.
    Love dat Murre!

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  15. Can we soak Sarah Palin in oil and toss her out to sea to see if she survives? Hey, that sounds like a new toungue twister we could teach our kids! "Can we soak Sarah and send her off to sea to see if she survives in oily seas!"

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  16. Isn't Haliburton somewhere in this oil gusher problem? And isn't Dick Cheney related to Haliburton? And wouldn't they both make good stoppers for the oil gusher? Sort of poetic justice?

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  17. Good, good, good stuff! It's really quite frightening how incredibly stupid people are. I often think God should have quit on Friday while he was ahead and taken the whole weekend to rest.

    Love this piece. You're such a good writer.

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  18. I've used peppermint oil as an ant deterrent, using a cotton ball to spread it around the edges of walls and countertops. It worked pretty well, and had the added benefit of making my apartment smell like a breath mint.

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  19. I cannot believe that Uncle Cliff didn't tie the chicken carcass around Lady's neck... My dog Nina had a similar incident and after the repercussions... never even glanced at a chicken (or a duck) again... but then... I don't eat chicken.... a in Eugene

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  20. Great ending to this post, Murr!

    Here's an ant (and other insect) tip for you: Boric acid kills insects and their nests and yet is completely harmless to humans. It works by dissolving their innards, and what's really cool about it is that they track it back to their nests and kill everything there, too. Just sprinkle a little along their path, and they'll be gone forever. Or until the next ones come along, anyway.

    Maybe we ought to sprinkle some Boric Acid on Sarah Palin, or all over BP's boardroom. It might work on them...

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  21. I've heard that boric acid tip before, and while I didn't try it, the ant traps I picked up are boric acid traps. And I never found their trail this year; they were more like flash mobs. The traps had no effect whatsoever, but three days ago the ants all went away, and the fruit flies showed up.

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  22. Murr, Murr, I so long your posts. You got style, lady. Loved all of it, even though reading about the murres and mores hurts so much.

    I LOVE the pic of the biga** black ant on the needle. Good one. I'm getting really pissed off at those suckers and vow to pick up some boric acid tomorrow. I knew it was a deterrent, but didn't realize they took it back to the nest.

    As for SP, don't get me started!

    ~That Rebel, Olivia

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  23. Actually, haha, that was supposed to say I so love your posts...:D

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  24. Wow, you made me laugh out loud about something that is a daily heartbreak!
    Thanks, I needed it!

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  25. Wow, you made me laugh out loud about something that is a daily heartbreak!
    Thanks, I needed it!

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  26. I've heard that boric acid tip before, and while I didn't try it, the ant traps I picked up are boric acid traps. And I never found their trail this year; they were more like flash mobs. The traps had no effect whatsoever, but three days ago the ants all went away, and the fruit flies showed up.

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  27. Can we soak Sarah Palin in oil and toss her out to sea to see if she survives? Hey, that sounds like a new toungue twister we could teach our kids! "Can we soak Sarah and send her off to sea to see if she survives in oily seas!"

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  28. This post was a Wild Mouse, and I hung on for the whole ride, and now I have that stupid smile.
    Love dat Murre!

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