The Laundry Basket From Above.

I live near a lot of fancy suburbs. I do not live *in* any of them. In fitting with my renegade style of life, I live in the unincorporated county, where no one can tell me what to do and I am endlessly confused as to what should technically go on the third line of my mailing address.

But these fancy suburbs provide me endless entertainment.

One such fancy suburb is a rather hilly city, and they found the most glorious way to combine these two characteristics (fancy + hills) into the perfect official city slogan.

“A Life Above.”

That’s right. They actually went there. They want to make sure that I am completely aware that they are currently looking down their perfectly sculpted noses at me who is, clearly, living a life below.

If you can even call it a life. More like An Existence Below.

It goes without saying that when, perchance, I see something that doesn’t quite meet the qualifications of The Above Life going down in their perfect enclave of humanity, I notice.

(And point and laugh. But that’s beside the point.)

One such item was The Laundry Basket Above.

On a particularly rainy Saturday, we were passing through The Life Above to go to Ali’s basketball game. It was dreary. Muddy waterfalls were blighting their roads. The world was ugly no matter how above you lived.

At a busy intersection, the type that’s so busy it requires a triangular cement divider in the middle of the road, I first noticed it.

There was a laundry basket, full of clothes and soaked all the way below its nasty nasty core.

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Clothes were spilling out. There was a brown towel. A green pair of underwear. Very yanky looking sheets.

It was the most un-above thing I’d ever encountered in the wild.

So naturally I took a picture and sent it to all my friends who live The Life Above.

(Thankfully they all have good senses of humor. Or they wouldn’t be my friends.)

I also couldn’t help but wonder.

What would make someone abandon their laundry in the middle of the intersection? Were they on their way to the laundromat (which of course doesn’t exist in A Life Above) and just happen to see their favorite ex sitting at the traffic light? And they squealed, dropped the laundry, and jumped into his (or her) Trans-Am?

The next morning, we were headed to church. We have to go through this particular intersection to get there, so we eagerly craned our necks to check on the fate of The Most Above Laundry Basket That Ever Existed.

It was still there, but now a good deal more strewn, and still quite moist.

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Clearly someone or something had been rooting around in there.

Which is when we began to make up stories.

Perhaps An Opossum Above had taken up residence. Which, considering Opossum track records in busy intersections, was either the smartest or stupidest thing an Opossum had ever done.

Or maybe someone simply needed a fresh pair of green underpants. Although fresh is definitely the wrong adjective…

The next Saturday, we began the Day Count.

The Laundry Basket Above was now on Day Eight.

Whose responsibility is it to clean up discarded laundry baskets? Is it the same guy who has to clean up roadkill? Why hasn’t he been around yet? There aren’t THAT many raccoons lying about…

The Laundry Basket Above made it to Day Ten.

Maybe the Laundry Opossum is an endangered species. I bet they have to build a picket fence around The Laundry Basket Above and leave it there forever. There will definitely be a plaque. He will become The Official Mascot of A Life Above. Everyone will bless the ground that is walked on by whoever discarded their full load of laundry. THEY ARE A POSSUM LIFESAVER.

THE LAUNDRY BASKET ABOVE ON DAY THIRTEEN.

Is mold growing in that laundry basket yet? Will it hurt the Laundry Opossum? I bet flies are laying their maggot babies in it. That thing is going to be An Ecosystem Above of its very own.

And then, it was gone.

Either The Roadkill Scraping Guy finally got around to the bottom of his checklist (right underneath “Small decapitated chipmunk on Altavista” was listed “Burgeoning laundry basket on Columbiana.”), or someone said “SCORE!! FREE TOWELS AND UNDERWEAR!” And happily scooped up the laundry basket and its Opossum home.

But whatever happened, it was no longer there, and I mourned its loss.

That laundry basket and I had become close. I looked forward to our bi-weekly visits. I pined to know its secrets. All of its stories of past, happier days.

Whose back did you dry, brown towel? Whose butt did you cover, green underpants?

But now I would never know.

A week later, as we passed through the intersection and I braced myself for my period of mourning, we saw it.

Right where the laundry basket had been, there was a dead animal.

“Is that a raccoon??”

”It looks like a small fox!!”

“Go around again! We need to know!!”

“It’s a bobcat!?!”

“OH MY GOSH THAT’S A GIANT HOUSE CAT.”

Apparently it was never an Opossum Home. It was a Cat House. And when that cat returned from a chasing unincorporated mice, to cozy up into its comfortable bed of browns and greens, it discovered that its home had been stolen RIGHT OFF THE FOUNDATION, and it immediately died of shock and sadness.

A true Shakespearean tale of tragic woe and fitted sheets.

Stop the Barbarians and Their Toxins.

If there’s any modern truism, it is that we cannot have nice things. Any new good thing is immediately picked apart and ruthlessly demonized for its harmful effects on some segment of Earth-dwellers, be they human, animal, or plant. My dear fellow Earth-dwelling humans, it is time for me to discuss how we have all been deceived, and ruin your good thing.

We have been fear-mongered and fooled into purchasing flu-fighting poisons for our family – simply because everyone else was doing it. Like lemmings to the edge of a school-closing, family-wrecking, paranoid cliff, we have fought and bled to acquire the new holy grails of flu-fighting magic.

Move over Tamiflu, there’s a new kid and an old weird guy in town.

I, too, was fooled. With local pharmacies scrambling for stock, I even went so far as to preemptively order the fresh death products from Amazon – just to have them on hand if we needed them. Which is when I started looking into what I had done.

I am discussing, of course, the viral Facebook-urged purchase of Elderberry Syrup and Oscillococcinum.

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I purchased both of these things, just in case my family succumbed to the flu despite our best efforts at avoiding it.

But what are these things? Oscilloco-what? It sounds mediciney enough. Okay.

But elderberries? The only point of reference I have to them is a rude Frenchman yelling at King Arthur, “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!”

But hey, Facebook testimonials are the Consumer Reports of 2018. So I believed that they would save us, and I dutifully shoved Elderberry gummies down my kid’s throats every morning – just in case.

Until I started researching it deeper. One can never do too much research into product safety. So I turned over the box of Oscillococcinum.

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They hide their ingredients behind an extinct language to keep you from knowing what you’re putting into your body. But when translated, the active ingredient of Oscillococcinum is the anus of a barbarian. I have thoroughly researched this on the internet (which is quite the minefield let me assure you), and barbarian anus is TOXIC to humans, and doubly toxic to children.

Yet they tell you to feed your children, just two years of age and older, an adult-sized portion of Sphincter de Savage.

Furthermore, check out the inactive ingredients. Lactose! They are also trying to destroy the bowels of the lactose-intolerant. If they take this product, it’ll make them think barbarian anus.

AND THEY CALL THIS HOMEOPATHIC. What they mean is that it would be pathological for homo sapiens to put this in their bodies!

Furthermore, its counterpart, Elderberry Syrup, is causing a pandemic of previously unseen proportions within the church. Do you know how many Elders must be harvested to create just one bottle of Elderberry Syrup? Every protestant church in The Bible Belt is missing at least two and a half Elders. Deacons everywhere are having to step up their aging in order to take their place.

Some of the more liturgical denominations have written The Pope, asking to borrow a Cardinal or two until the depths of Elder Harvesting has passed. Because after all, no one is drinking Cardinalberry Syrup.

BE AWARE, people. Don’t just blindly follow viral Facebook posts when the future of your family’s well-being is in your hands!!

Let me offer a better solution.

If you feel strongly about fighting the flu with homeopathic methods and want a safer, more reliable product, then I highly recommend that you do your research – you will find that only one essential item will meet your needs. You need The Oil of Uranus.

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Uranus Oils are carefully harvested from the depths of artisan asteroids and are protected from seed to seal. It is guaranteed that no barbarians ever make it into the final product, ensuring a zero toxicity vial of the best Uranus has to offer. Just a drop of Uranus Oil under the tongue will stop a fever in its tracks, and rubbing a small amount of Uranus on the outside of the nose and throat will calm those upper respiratory symptoms instantaneously.

And of course, there is no greater power over your family’s health than keeping the Oil of Uranus continuously diffusing throughout your house. The peace and relief that you and your family will feel is unequalled.

But just like every other enlightening blog post out there, I know y’all are going to do what you’re going to do anyway and ignore this life or death warning that I cry out to you. So enjoy your barbarian anus and extract of senior citizen. Bottoms up!

The Death of a Grasshopper.

“Hey Mom! There’s a hurt Grasshopper out here!”

Noah had gone to the front porch to feed the neighborhood cat that is known at our address as Thomas.

(Thomas has many names – many more than we probably even know. He works the feline benefits system well, just as his predecessor Fred, ingratiating himself to (or guilting handily) all of the neighborhood in order to eat as many meals as possible.)

“Is he dead?”, I asked Noah.

(Back to the grasshopper here – not Thomas. Follow my train of thought, people!)

“No – he’s just hurt. He’s still wiggling.”

Based on where Noah was standing – right in front of the door – I knew the grasshopper had to have been a special delivery from Thomas himself. A thoughtful gift for us in exchange for our feeding efforts.

But we were doing school and I had no time to inspect my gift at that moment.

We found ourselves on the porch later in the day, doing our read-aloud and other subjects that we do as a group. Somehow I’d missed, yet again, properly appreciating this gift, so Noah picked him up on a leaf and brought him to me to inspect.

It was pitiful.

The lovely Grasshopper was confined to his side, clearly having lost one of his jumping legs and bleeding a brownish liquid from his Thorax.

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He looked at me imploringly, while focusing on his labored, slow breaths. It was almost as if I could hear his thoughts.

My dear lady, I apologize for the predicament in which I find myself. It appears your cat has made the attempt to make a gift of me. I hope you find me a worthy gift, but it is rather inconvenient that I am mortally wounded.

It was just terrible. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it’s not even my cat.

I am personally not nearly offended enough by Thomas’ outright-dead gifts – in fact, I have memorialized more than one:

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But there was something about this nearly dead gift that broke my heart. I just wasn’t sure what to do. Maybe he would recover somewhat, and slink away to heal – or maybe not.

Ah, my lady, I would love nothing more than to ease your discomfort by dragging my damaged exoskeleton into the bushes and die in peace, but alas, my limbs do not appear to be useful at the present time. Perhaps you could –

But we had school to do.

I do hope that Mr. Grassy enjoyed the reading of a chapter of “The Incorrigibles of Ashton Place”, and then a chapter in our Chemistry and Physics textbook. I ruminated over the possibility that at least, in his last moments of life, he could increase his knowledge and understanding of the cruel world that had murdered him.

Fascinating, So the electrons revolve around the nucleus? Who knew?

But…he didn’t die.

By the end of the reading, his breathing was even more painful to watch. More labored, more heaving. You could nearly hear him gasping and groaning. And he now lay in a small pool of his own bodily fluids.

It is most unfortunate, madam, that due to the physics of your cat, my personal chemistry is leaking onto your porch. I am most embarrassed. Perhaps now might be a good time to –

So I texted Chris for moral guidance.

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Chris has always been a freeze-er. Anytime he finds large spiders, he captures them carefully in my Tupperware and puts them in my freezer. Something about the violent crunching of stepping on a living being is more than he can handle.

(Obviously I draw the line at cockroaches entering my freezer. So he’s a flush-er of those.)

I am not a freeze-er. I find this somehow more cruel. Or at least me thinking about that gasping Grasshopper becoming colder and colder in his last moments was too much for me.

I wanted him to go out with his new education, not wishing he had a scarf.

Oh, thank you. I do hate to impose, but it would be most helpful if you could end this unfortunate situation.

So I folded him up in a piece of paper, added two leaves in for a further wall between him and my foot, took him out to the sidewalk (as Noah tailed me, asking if Grasshoppers go to heaven and how do I KNOW they don’t have souls?!?), and I stepped on him.

I picked up the paper and peeked in.

HE WAS STILL MOVING.

MADAM, this is most unhelpful. I am trying to maintain my dignity and composure, but this is quite unpleasant. Could you PLEASE try again?

This was the worst execution I’d ever been a part of. I felt sick, evil, and an all around persecutor of grasshoppers.

I quickly sat down the paper and thoroughly ensured his death.

The next time I fed Thomas I made sure to tell him to please be sure and leave only completely dead things in the future.

Well, if I was really your cat, you might get better gifts. Kiss my tail.