May 23, 2005

Good Omens and Budding Sociopaths

My neighborhood is over run by a pack of small, wild boys. They live in my basement, because WE have a POOL TABLE, and they forage for filth and victims in my backyard because WE have a POND. Well, not really a pond. We generously call it a POND, but it is really a piece of MUCK-RIDDEN FLOOD PLAIN.

Many fine things like to live in a muck-ridden flood plain, including turtles and tadpoles and worms and mosquitoes and the kind of adorable little brown bats who EAT mosquitoes: all thing guaranteed to attract wild boy-packs. I fear for the turtles because they are SLOWER than the boys. I have personally seen a nice box turtle being toted off by the pack, and I went out and said, ITS FINE TO WATCH THE TURTLE AND HERE IS LETTUCE AND TRY TO COAX IT OUT BUT YOU MUST PUT THE TURTLE BACK WHERE YOU FOUND HIM AND YOU MUST NOT POKE OR MOLEST OR PRY OR LICK TURTLES! THE LICKING BECAUSE THEY CARRY SALMONELLA AND WASH YOUR HANDS FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. OKAY? OKAY? And the little boys nodded and made YES MA'AM noises and walked off already licking the turtle surreptitiously and then the turtle was NEVER SEEN AGAIN. I suspect it is dying by agonizing inches in the turtle version of an abattoir (which we non-turtles know as "the garage in a house which contains a small boy").

Yesterday, two of the bigger boys caught a HOST of hapless tadpoles using ingenuity and Ziploc sandwich bags, and they distributed two pre-frogs to every member of the small boy populace, who NO DOUBT took them home and placed them in Tupperware with tap water where they promptly died, and isn't killing little animals one of the first SIGNS? Because if so, we are raising a FLEET of little serial killers here in my subdivision.

As for me and my house, we intercepted Sam before Death by Tap Water could be perpetrated, and decided that we are going to do tadpoles RIGHT. We are going to go to PET SMART later today and get tad-foods and a non-tupperware tad-tainer and use ONLY the water we salvage from the muck-ridde---I mean POND. And we shall be raising little taddies all the way up until they reach FROG or DEATH, whichever comes first, because I don't want to be the only house on my block where the torture of small woodland creatures is not sanctioned. Got to keep up with the Saddistic Jones Boy. OH WELL. At least our taddies will have a FIGHTING CHANCE. And at least it is EDUCATIONAL. There will be stages of the frog and support via internet research and learning and I TRULY hope two things:
That our frogs will live to be released.
And that our frogs are all the same sex.
Because there is educational, and then there is EDUCATIONAL.

I DO love living in the wilderness though, out here in the cotton and the kudzu...A couple of days ago, this came and sat on our porch:


HOW AWESOME IS THAT! I have decided to take it as an omen because my second book, Between, Georgia, is stuffed chock-full of Luna moths, and here one came and graced my wall! I wondered if it was maybe DYING, because they HATCH (or whatever one does from a cocoon) with NO DIGESTIVE SYSTEM. Seriously. They only have reproductive organs. And leafy feelers so they can find OTHER moths with OPPOSING reproductive organs. And WINGS so they can get to the bearers of said opposing reproductive organs. And then they make caterpillars with NO reproductive organs; Caterpillars are pretty much just TUBES with STOMACHS. Which I find to be very creepy, and yet the bugs themselves begin as CUTE and END as gorgeous.

Then I was working out with gameshow network on---Card Sharks -- and what's-his-bucket said, "We asked 100 dieters, would you rather give up FOOD or SEX." (DIGRESSION: UM? Does this strike anyone else as a BIZARRE question; I mean, if you picked FOOD you wouldn't get to enjoy sex anyway because you would be DEAD in a few weeks or days if WATER was included as food, and yet 48 of the dieters said FOOD. And then I thought about the RAT experiment and that rat chose DEATH BY STARVATION over giving up sex. So. If YOU were the rubber-skull-cap rat, what button would YOU push? END DIGRESSION) In the middle of my second weight set, I suddenly realized the bizarre question might actually be a BONAFIDE MESSAGE FROM THE LORD to go check on the luna moth. SURE ENOUGH, I found the pack of small boys approaching with fistfuls of pinestraw and leaves and moth-poking sticks to "build him a fort" which I think was code for "surround him with kindling and light him on fire."

Boy 1: Um, but I think he is dead.
Me: He is not dead.
Boy 2: But we poked him and he just sat. We poked him a LOT.
Me: Dead things do not cling to walls. Leave him alone.
Boy 2: Maybe he died and someone glued him there.
Boy 3: Yeah, with GLUE.

There is no hope for America what with ONE small neighborhood alone about to yield 10 or 12 serial killers, but I am taking the moth as a good omen anyway...

Posted by joshilyn at May 23, 2005 9:57 AM

'we poked him a LOT'...peeing pants laughing...remembering I have three boys...going to lie down now...

Posted by: Amy at May 23, 2005 10:39 AM

LOL! Don't worry - my sister and I caught snakes and tadpoles (typically named Dead Fred), put crickets to sleep with clover juice, woke 'em up again with coffee - and we've grown up to be very careful caretakers of pets and children, with no signs yet of becoming serial killers! (Although we are GIRLS.)

Posted by: Laura at May 23, 2005 11:05 AM

LOL what's worse is my 11 yo ds caught tadpoles last year, and they grew into frogs, and then he realized he couldn't release them because the hole of the bottle that he kept the little buggers in... well they just grew too big in the jar! Acckkk!

Go with the tad-tainer! It's a good thing! ;-)

Posted by: Linda at May 23, 2005 2:09 PM

Oh honey, you don't know sociopath tendencies. What I wouldn't give for a little harmless wildlife torture over here at my house....

Posted by: Mir at May 23, 2005 2:17 PM

Um, Joss, I get the neatness of that moth, but it is durn sheery! If it landed anywhere near me I would probably faint dead away and then wake up and cry.


I am NOT outdoorsy, ya think?

Posted by: Heather at May 23, 2005 4:29 PM



not 'sheery'

back to your regular scheduled comments

Posted by: Heather at May 23, 2005 4:31 PM

Here is a hypothetical situation: if I caught two of my boys playing catch in the driveway with a guinea pig, should I consult a therapist? For them? After getting the guinea pig a new home STAT, of course. Or should I resign myself to the fact I am raising multiple criminals?

Again, just wondering....for my friend.


Posted by: "Anne" at May 23, 2005 5:02 PM

Grace and Andrew used to catch crawdads(mistakenly called CRAYFISH or CRAWFISH by the wrongheaded) and leave them in a bucket of river water overnight in the garage, without telling. Either the dogs would chew through a solid maple door to get in the garage and torture them, or the next morning we would find the garage floor crawling with randomly-spaced desperate crawdads gasping for air. This shared wildlife irresponsibility produced two relatively sane children, but alas, the same cannot be said of the crawdads.

Posted by: Jilly at May 23, 2005 5:20 PM

The other weekend, my daughter and her friend came running in asking for a jar. Why they thought I would give them anything made of glass, I do not know. I asked them for what, they had caught a toad. I told them to use the bug house. A little screen house thingy that daugther forgets and leaves grasshoppers to perish in. Probably in the process of torturing said toad, he escaped. I think he is still under the holly bush in a state of panic.

Posted by: Robbie at May 23, 2005 6:48 PM

THAT is a luna moth? Wow. Who knew? (Didn't B. Kingsolver write about those things in Prodigal Summer? Or maybe I'm thinking of another book...but I know I read about them somewhere...I was just too lazy to Google them to see what the heck they looked like...)

I really and truly think you need your own TV show...because this is much more entertaining than anything I can find on my 100 or so channels...

Posted by: Marilyn at May 23, 2005 9:03 PM

Yay Marilyn! Joss on REALITY TELEVISION . . . what more could I ask for?

Posted by: Dana W at May 23, 2005 11:31 PM

I'm not exactly sure how I stumbled upon your blog (I think, perhaps, it was a google search for "twee definition"), but I like it. I live enshrouded in the kudzu badlands myself, and I find it entertaining.. I look forward to continue reading.

That luna moth is certainly beautiful, rascals or no...

Posted by: Melissa at May 24, 2005 2:25 AM

I was a luna moth for Halloween once. It was the most awesome costume EVER.

Posted by: lizardek at May 24, 2005 5:00 AM

Oh good googily moogily what the hell is that? A Luna Moth? If that came near me I think I'd leap into the air and pee my pants in one swell foop. Must be a non-outdoorsy-Heather-thing.

Posted by: Heather McCutcheon at May 24, 2005 11:11 AM

Ah, see, the Heathers think the moth is just scary. Must be in the name.

And, yes, BK wrote about them in Prodigal Summer. Love that book! But, it did not make me love bugs.

Posted by: Heather at May 24, 2005 11:19 AM

Wow..gotta love that moth! I've never seen one - I think - maybe I have and didn't pay it no mind which is really not very understandable since if something like that were to come anywhere within the proximity of my being, I really think common sense would be to marvel at its brilliance. Of course..the key word is common sense. Oops, two key I said...*smile*

Posted by: Dorothy at May 24, 2005 12:32 PM


I found your blog link at, of all places, a costume-maker's journal! (She wants to make fairy wings, and someone mentioned your luna moth photo.)

I can't be sympathetic about the basement full of boys, though--there's hardly any kids in my neighborhood besides my own, and I would love to have a house full all the time!

Posted by: Dianne at May 26, 2005 4:04 PM