Rabbits, Goats and Chickens, Too

This is going to be the best Thanksgiving in years! Maybe ever. I have never been so excited for a holiday before. However, it will only be spectacular if I don’t…

  1. Float away.
  2. Blow away.
  3. Overdose from inhaling noxious pine-scented fumes.
  4. Stub my toe on a protruding corner of the kitchen counter and, while falling to the ground in agony, choke on a pine nut husk lodged in my throat.

Scoff if you will and laugh if you must, but all of these scenarios are distinct possibilities. It all started last week when Tara asked me, during an otherwise innocent phone conversation, when I had last removed the knobs from my stove in order to clean behind them.

“Oh, those things come off?” I asked. Which pretty much answered her question.

I don’t even know how we got on the topic of housecleaning in the first place, but I was inspired by our talk. Or shamed? Can’t decide which. In any case, while I have always considered myself a neat freak – remember, I can’t even leave the house with dirty dishes in the sink lest I get hit by a bus and have people think I was a slob while alive (because apparently my reputation means everything to me, even when dead) – but there is a difference between “neat” and “clean,” I suppose. Which is why I not only scrubbed behind those oven knobs over the weekend, but found myself elbow deep in a bucket of Pine Sol and hot water this morning. On the plus side, my kitchen has never been cleaner. And it smells like a forest in here, even if I am a bit woozy from the fumes. Hey, at least I have some control over #3!

Flooding along the Oregon coast this morning. It wasn't quite that bad here in Portland...at least, not yet!

#1 and #2, on the other hand? Not so much. I awoke this morning to rain. Not such a big deal, right? This is the Pacific Northwest. It rains a lot here. And while that is true, typically our rain is light in nature, and sporadic. It’s an oft-recited statistic that places like New York City and Miami average more rainfall in a year than Portland. Our 37.5″ annual rainfall comes in the form of a lot of drizzle and mist, mixed in with what the locals call “sun breaks.” That is why this morning was different: it was raining raining. As in, raining. Not just cats and dogs, but rabbits and goats and chickens, too. Heavy rain that lasted for hours – nearly 2″ worth. That’s nearly 5% of our average annual rainfall, in one fell swoop. A deluge not necessarily of epic proportions, but enough to prompt flood advisories and close a few roads. The rain slackened off a bit this afternoon, but is coming back with a vengeance tonight and early Wednesday morning. As if that weren’t bad enough, we’ve got wind. Gusts to 40 mph, to be exact. Remember that scene in The Jerk where the crazed gunman opened the phone book to a random page and decided to put a few holes in Johnson, Navin R.? It’s like Mother Nature played a similar game with Portland today.

And then there’s #4. In what can best be described as one of those this-could-only-happen-to-Mark events, I did in fact stub my toe on a protruding corner of the (shiny, gleaming and pine-scented) kitchen counter shortly after snacking on a handful of pine nuts, which caused the aforementioned chain reaction (a sharp pain, a howl of agony, a dramatic fall to the living room floor, and a sudden choking fit thanks to a not-quite-swallowed pine nut husk that was tickling the back of my throat something fierce). Sure, it’s one of those things we can look back on and snicker over now, but at the time I thought I was a goner.

Sure, pine nuts are delicious. But when you stub your toe and fall to the floor, they become deadly. Trust me on this.

I’m telling you, it’ll be a small miracle if I make it to Thanksgiving in one piece.

And by the way, quit laughing! Have you ever stubbed your toe before?! That freakin’ hurts!!!

Anyway. Assuming that the worst is behind me – knock on wood and all that jazz – Thanksgiving will, in fact, be amazing. My brother was teasing me over the phone yesterday because I’d mentioned on Facebook that in a mere 47 hours I’d be meeting Tara at the airport. “Don’t you just love it when your countdown switches from days to hours?” he asked, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I already know I’ll be landing in Vegas to see Tara in 796 hours, but that’s irrelevant. I simply reminded him that I haven’t had anybody special to share the holidays with in years, not including my kids and parents, of course. They’re wonderful and everything, but I can’t spend hours kissing them on the lips, you know? After about ten minutes that novelty wears off.

I kid, I kid.

The point is, it’s going to be a great holiday because Tara will be here. For five glorious nights. So yeah, it’s different this year in ways I wouldn’t have imagined  were possible more than a few months ago. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. This year, it’ll be even better.

Provided I survive that long…


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

23 thoughts on “Rabbits, Goats and Chickens, Too

  1. You have no idea how much I can relate to the pine nut story. I have a bit of a phobia about choking on food. If I’m home alone and eating, I engage in what-if scenarios, imagining how I’ll throw myself over the edge of a chair to self-Heimlich. I can’t enjoy hard candies because I obsess too much about the possibilities of accidental slippage due to excessive saliva buildup. Lollipops are never eaten while driving because an air bag could shove that thing through the back of my throat and turn me into a Margaret shish kebab. All of this fear is no doubt the result of a worrywart aunt who used to panic about every little thing we did as kids. So now, I don’t leave my son alone if he’s eating, but I figure he doesn’t need to know my reasoning behind that. I absorbed enough choking fear for the both of us. 😉


  2. I’m getting spoiled. Loving all these posts. Keep ’em coming!!!

    Yeah…I get the difference between neat and clean. I may have instilled that in Tara…let’s not even get started on deep-clean!

    Hope you toe is okay and I’m trying really hard not to keep on laughing but darn it Mark, you make it pretty difficult!

    Have a great few days and Happy Thanksgiving Mark to you and your family!!


    1. Greetings and salutations, Mrs. King. You’re getting ever more creative by the minute. I can’t promise a lot of posts over the next few days, as I’ll be a bit busy with your daughter. But you’ll see me in person on Saturday! 🙂

      Have a happy Thanksgiving!


  3. Yes, I HAVE stubbed my toe once….and brother did it HURT!

    OMG….I saw stars! YAWZA!

    I stubbed it on the side of wall, as I was walking from the kitchen to the hallway while visiting my mother in Florida. The whole side of my foot got black and blue, and stayed that way for over a WEEK! I actually think I broke my baby toe, but it miraculously mended itself.

    Mark, it’s been raining here too. In fact, it started last night and hasn’t let up. It’s POURING! I just got back from WALKING to the grocery store after work and got SOAKED – and I was carrying an umbrella! I think my good dress shoes are ruined 😦

    Have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving Day, buddy. As I’m SURE you will!

    Wishing you and Tara a lovely time together!


    1. I broke my middle finger once, Ron. And no, I wasn’t flipping somebody off – I was roughhousing with the kids and jammed it on the stairs. Never went to the doctor, and it healed itself after awhile. The human body is miraculous that way, I’m tellin’ ya…

      Have yourself a wonderful Thanksgiving, my friend!


  4. Mark, your writing has always been very good. You know how much I loved your novel and all, right. But, I swear, the writing is just getting better and better, as if I thought that were really a real possibility. It was damn good to begin with. All this to say, I think love has done great things for your writing life. Thanks to Tara! Happy Thanksgiving to both of you!!!!


    1. Aww…thanks, Kathy! I appreciate that. It’s amazing how happiness can wind its way into the very fabric of our lives…right down to the words we write on the electronic page. Hope you and Sara have a fantastic Thanksgiving yourselves!


    1. Funny, I was on the phone with my brother yesterday and asked him if HE’D ever taken the knobs off the stove. His response?

      “Oh, those things come off?”

      Which, of course, sounded very familiar. Totally a guy thing!


  5. Reading of the stubbing of the toe induced choking thing made me go into a fit of laughter induced coughing…in my office no less LOL I guess I’m not the only one that has clumsy, semi life threatening luck like that. Glad you survived though. It sounds like your Thanksgiving will be a wonderful, and greatly deserved time!


  6. 1. When I was growing up the man who lived across the street died in his bed choking on ice cream. At least that’s the story his wife told the cops.

    2. Moss-covered rocks in small streams… Kitchen cabinets and newly-scrubbed floors… all hazards, Mark. Be careful, ok?


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