Monday, February 2, 2009

Punxsutawney Phil and Gopher Guts

Don't you just hate those days when a gopher has a death grip on your shoe and you can't launch him off no matter what?

I am thinking of gophers today since it's Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, officially sentencing us to more cold weather. I'm in California. If it gets any colder in Los Angeles it'll be summer. Winter never fully arrived in some parts of our state. If you're in London, what with the blizzard and all today, you probably think Phil is a bloody genius and wish we would swap him to you for Madonna. Frankly, I think we should leave things as they are. I don't know what you ever did to deserve Madonna but hey, she's yours to keep. She says she wants to go back to New York now that she's gutted Guy Ritchie. If I was NYC I'd hang out the "No Vacancy" sign.

But speaking of things you don't want, I'm glad our gophers aren't as big as Punxsutawney Phil. Your leg could get a cramp trying to shake them off. It was hard enough trying to dislodge an average sized rodent.

When our house was being built every gopher in the neighborhood waged war with the encroaching humans. The gophers were tough and big and carried small semi-automatic weapons. One afternoon, we pulled up to our house to check the progress and the Godfather met us at the curb. He stood up and stuck his chest out. Grizzly Adams, my husband, yelled and stamped his foot in a show of brutal authority. The gopher clutched his heart and staggered, fell down laughing, then leapt to his feet, possessed-red-eyes flashing, and buried his Bucky-the-Beaver incisors into the toe of Grizzly's sneaker.

My husband is no Jackie Chan but he's got pretty sophisticated ninja moves when vermin are attached to his lower extremities. He whirled and kicked and jerked and whacked and sprinted down the curb, still sporting two long teeth and a pair of beady eyes, and that wasn't even counting the gopher. I very helpfully ran along yelling, "Get him off! Get him off your shoe! Kick him! Fling him!" These helpful utterances offered him valuable insights that might not have occured to him otherwise. But it didn't matter. When the rubber hit the road, it did so with the thud of vibrating gopher flesh and there was no sign of retreat.

As I looked around wildly for a stick or missle launcher, Grizzly gave one last massive kick. I watched our miniature nemisis sail through the air as though shot from a cannon. With a final show of dominance he stuck the landing and dusted himself off, glaring down the road at us. I always hoped he was the one my cat laid at my feet several years later.

Kitty Baby made it her life's mission to divest the neighborhood of this evil element. She relished her job. It wasn't enough to merely kill the things. She felt if you could not enjoy your work there was no point doing it. She frequently showed up in the backyard circus playing "Flying Trapeeze," in which she would throw the gopher and then fail to catch it on the other side. This provided hours and hours of great cat fun. When she grew bored, she would skin them and lay them out on the front porch for the rest of the rodent clan to view. In her spare time she made jaunty little hats for herself out of the leather.

I like to think she was avenging me from a childhood attack.

When I was seven I walked to second grade by myself everyday. It was about two miles and that was a lot of time to think up hair-brained ideas like how great it would be to catch a gopher in a paper bag. The thought first occured to me when I spotted a furry brown thing scooting along the ground one day. It was my foregone conclusion, as it was when I saw any animal, that it was lost, desperately lonely, and would undoubtedly die but for my timely intervention. And then there were the show-and-tell possibilities. No one ever pulled a wild rodent out of a sack. I was sure to be popular.

The next day, with brown lunch bag firmly in hand, I set out for school hoping my gopher rescue would go off without a hitch. As soon as I spotted him I dumped my lunch and closed in. He saw me and sat up. I lifted the bag for rapid capture. I was successful except for the fact that I had caught him by the teeth with the fatty part of my ring finger. He was firmly attached. I screamed bloody murder and ran like my tail was on fire. He wasn't the least intimidated. I shook my hand, my arm, the earth on which I stood. We were one.

I think he gave up when I entered the third grade.

Supposedly I never contracted rabies. But I have raged around and foamed at the mouth a few times to the point that the shed and being shot have been mentioned in my actual presence.

Which reminds me of the time I had a feral cat plastered to my head via teeth and claws and actually did get rabies shots. But that's a story for Halloween when my booster is due.

Copyright 2009


  1. Everyday I check Caltrans Live Traffic Cams to check and see if it's snowing (love snow, miss snow) in Tahoe. It's been very disappointing, it looks like it's the end of spring up there. I'm sure the East Coast would gladly give us some of their cold weather.

  2. Ok Robynn, this is a really hilarious post. I thought I was the only one who tried to catch every critter who crossed my path. I had forgotten about being threatened with the dreaded rabies shots in the stomach when I caught a mama chipmunk with my pointer finger. And also was reminded of the time Travis McGee and I trapped a baby possum in the kitchen wearing nothing but welding gloves and toting a trash can at 2 in the morning. Very pretty sight. Thanks for the memories. And you can have any of this weather we have in Ky. anytime.

  3. I always leave your site, wondering about the extent, of your power of exaggeration. After much thought, I decide to believe every word!

    Steve loves the movie Ground Hog Day. He will watch it over and over. He claims that it reminds him of his life...every day seems to be the same.

    I hate that movie!

  4. This is too funny! I never know what crazy shenanigin you are going to write about next!

  5. If any of that is true, and I suspect a lot of it is, no wonder you have good stories to tell! So fun to read. Hey, I noticed that you have a copyright at the bottom. How did you do that? Sounds like a goofy question, but I thought it was really hard to get copyrights or maybe I'm thinking pattens. LOL

  6. oh my goodness - so funny! Sounds like you need to stay away from gophers! :)

  7. Holy cow woman, you cracked me up. I almost spit my coffee on my freshly wiped down computer (yes, I wiped it down just for you and Hannah, but only after you left to get the cord!). I can't even believe someone would use you and exaggerate in the same sentence. I never doubt a single word of what you say! And I can picture the whole thing happening, especially the helpful directives you gave Grizzly Man! So nice to have a good laugh in the morning. Thanks!

  8. Holy cow woman, you cracked me up. I almost spit my coffee on my freshly wiped down computer (yes, I wiped it down just for you and Hannah, but only after you left to get the cord!). I can't even believe someone would use you and exaggerate in the same sentence. I never doubt a single word of what you say! And I can picture the whole thing happening, especially the helpful directives you gave Grizzly Man! So nice to have a good laugh in the morning. Thanks!

  9. Just in case someone missed my first post. :~/

  10. I swear, minus the semi-automatic weapons for the gophers, that this post is true (with hyperbole used only as a little seasoning). Perhaps he didn't "sail" through the air. He might have "fallen with style!" Trivia: What movie is THAT from?

  11. Wow! I never knew gophers were such vicious animals! I'll take bulls any day!

  12. Toy story. I have toddlers, I can quote the whole darn thing. I am so petrified of any type of vermin, it's really quite rediculous. I stepped on a mouse one time at work right next to the call center. I continued screaming for approximately 10 minutes. Right next to the call center. Regardless of the fact that I had broken it's back, and all it could do was ineffectually flop around, I continued screaming. **Shudders in horror**

  13. NaomiG, mother extraordinaire, wins the trivia question! Wish I was set up to give away prizes. But you have my hearty congratulations and "All Hails" from sitting through hours of mind-numbing repetition! I have walked your road fellow mother! Wouldn't "fellow mother" be an oxymoron? Or is oxymoron just a term saved for the author of this column?

  14. ... "jaunty little hats" ... that line caused me to snort and blow cranberry juice out my nose! Oh my you are a riot! Growing up in the country we had our fair share of gophers. My dad had strategic plans drawn up on how to divert, capture and dispose of the enemy. But what gave him the most protests were the opossums! Those things were beyond vicious. Do you have any opossum stories? I'm bettin' you do.

  15. hahahahahahahahahaha

    .......*little giggle* *wheeeeeze*


    *sigh* oh for Pete's sake


  16. Robynn,
    You are too funny! I was reading your blog on my laptop while sitting next to my husband who was watching a comedy show. I kept laughing out loud then my husband would laugh even louder thinking we were laughing at the same thing.
    I almost had milk coming out of my nose at one point! You need to write a book!

  17. We're being invaded my gophers and I'm ready to break out the dynamite!!! ;)

  18. Glad you guys are laughin' cause that's what I love!

    Kaylee: over at McCracken's - You just crack me up that you crack up so much. You make me laugh all the time anyway!

    The Wife: Yes, they are dangerous. Just try sitting on one. It's different from a bull.

    Georgie: Thanks for your visit! Glad to have you laughin' along!

    Linda: You encourage me too much. I'll never shut up at this rate! And yes, I have a DOOZY of an oppossum story. How'd you know?!

    Treehouse: I was laughing reading about the laughing between you and your husband! And I'm working on a book, in fact two of them. Thank you for your vote of confidence. :)

    Joy: Go for it!! Then write about it so we can all laugh with you!

  19. Robynn, you really have a gift--turning a scary, painful experience into humor! Love reading your blog.

  20. I found you via Gizzards and Calf Fries! Thanks for visiting me.

    I must say this was absolutely HILARIOUS!! Goodness - I can't remember the last time I laughed this hard!

    I WILL be checking in again! Thanks for a great post!

  21. I truly think PP needs to retire! He's been around too long and I'm positive his eyesight is failing him!!
    Hey, I noticed today..
    our Voles are here already! Could you send your hubby up here to go battle with them???? Purty-pleeeze??

  22. OMGoodness... this is too funny. I/we (my husband and I) can so relate. We have gopher and mole issues -mostly gopher , now that the cat has taken care of the moles. But, these gophers teeth(!) -the cat doesn't mess with them as much. BUTTT, my handy other half puts these traps (we finally found some that work) in the holes and Whallah! less gopher. I'm not keen on the method, but with horses, it's somewhat of a necessity (gopher holes can make for nasty ruts that a horse can trip in).
    Thanks for the laughs!

  23. Hi Robynn! I definitely need to read this one to Vartkess as he is in a constant all-out-battle with the gophers on our property, and is just sure that they are capable of all that you have mentioned... and OH SO MUCH MORE!!! Have a great day and thanks for such a great laugh :O)

  24. OH MY GAWD !
    I was laughing so hard there, that I thought I was gonna wake the neighbors!
    And I spit my coffee all over the screen AGAIN... so in future, could you please post a " WARNING" in the title, so I know to put all drinkables down first?

    Oh Robynn, what a great way to start my day !!

  25. Oh... and I forgot.
    Can I share this (by link of course) on my blog?
    I want to share the laughter!!

  26. Our weather in Oklahoma has been really up and down this winter. Last week we had a snow sleet storm. Tomorrow it is supposed to be up close to 70, so maybe it will finish melting the sneet (snow sleet) still on the ground here. I love the gopher story. And I do have a 'possum story that you made me think about, so I'll have to jot that tale down before long.

    Thank you for stopping by my little corner of the blogging world. I think that thanking folks who stopped by is how I found a lot of the blogs I read.

    Thanks for a great, fun story.


  27. What a funny story! I want to try and save all the little critters.

  28. !!! got here and it was well worth the trip... have giggled so hard my tummy muscles hurt.
    Have got to hear about the feral cat and the rabies booster... roll on Hallowe'en!
    (with regards to your next post am already a follower, or would stick my name up there again... you are SO FUNNY!...and you leave the best comments...)

  29. Homestay Mama: We have to laugh don't we. But out here, even when we can't find anything humorous in our situation, you find the dearest folks to care for and love you anyway. Thank you for seeing something good in me. :)

    Lady Fi: So glad you came and THANK you for signing up to follow. Incredible blog and terrific writer. Please VISIT her!

    W.O.W. - He's on his way. As soon as I told him he had an opportunity to leave work, go north, and hunt varmints all I heard was the screech of his tires. Have plenty of coffee. He should be there soon.

    BZ: Again, THANK you! for coming aboard and no, those holes and horses DON'T mix. How in the world are all these varmints so numerous?! They've learned to work together, apparently. Perhaps we should put them in the White House. Could solve problems on several fronts.

    TM: You KNOW I'm ravin' about you over on your site. My head is so big this a.m. I can't hold it up and find myself typing whilst looking at the ceiling. My LORD I have cobwebs!

    Helen/Reddirt: So happy to have you drop in to my place. And I'm with you....I have found the MOST fantastic blogs just traveling back to those who have come in. Another favorite is to look at everyone's blog list. If I like their blog and style I find I usually like who they're following. Hope to see you again!

    Sassydog: How's the bunny this morning?? As far as saving all the mean we haven't and there are more??!!

    LadyBird: You are too kind and I'm glad you get a laugh here and are FOLLOWING me! That is high praise from someone who makes me shut the windows before I read her so the neighbors won't be disturbed by my howling!

  30. I so enjoyed this! I came over from Tater's Mama's blog and I'm so glad I did.