Adventures of the Washrage Brigade–Part 2

Washrag Brigade–a Tantalizing, Unsolved Who Dun ‘it?

775 N. Ashtree Way hosts a beautiful Jacuzzi tub in the master bath surrounded by a stained glass and blocked glass windows and crowned with a chandelier. In this room designed for tranquility, each day a dastardly crime is committed. The guilty party has yet to be identified. In the morning, the wash cloths are neatly folded on the rim of the tub. By afternoon, the washrags are thrown all around the bathroom.

Clue: Crime committed in bathroom with a washrage
Clue: Crime committed in bathroom with a washrag
Is it Capt. Violet?
Is it Capt. Violet?

Capt. Violet is capable of  this misdeed. Two clues, however, suggest another culprit. First, the washrags are disturbed but not destroyed. Second, Sergeant Angel has been captured on video running from the crime scene with  the cleaning crew socks and pummeling them with her paws.

Devil Kitty: Suspect in washrag crime
Devil Kitty: Suspect in washrag crime

A crime of this nature is beneath Colonel Satch who loathes water.  Private Shani has an alibi, spending her days in the yard. Who do you think is the culprit?

Panty Raid Anyone?

Teenage Queen Bee is the victim of this crime of passion. When doors to bedrooms, bathrooms, or the laundry room are unwittingly left open, panties and volleyball Spanx are found torn up in the living room.

Private Shani: Panty thief caught in the act
Private Shani: Panty thief caught in the act

Invariably, only the most expensive Victoria Secret panties appeal to the criminal. For a long period of time, this crime was blamed on Capt. Violet. However, Private Shani has been caught red-handed gleefully running through the house with a bright red thong clenched in her jaws.

The Sorry Tale of the Screamin’ Me-me!

Col Sach: Supreme leader, always victorious!
Col Sach: Supreme leader, always victorious!

Do not let Col Satch’s disinterested appearance deceive you. He is the crime lord of the domain. He frequently chases a silly dachshund visitor, Oscar Reilly through Ashtree Way with a yowling snarl. The wiener dog’s heart wrenching squeal echoes through the cathedral hallway and the dog’s long, sharp claws make clicking sounds on the hard wood floors scampering to the safety of his owner’s lap.

Oscar Reilly: Victim of cat bullying
Oscar Reilly: Victim of cat bullying

On these occasions, the Colonel pulls up sharply at the couch switches his tail and marches off victorious.

The Washrag Brigade—Part 1

The Washrag Brigade controls 775 N. Ashtree Way, a normal looking home on the outside. Every morning when the last human leaves, the Brigade mounts its stealthy attack.

Team Members

The Colonel

The Colonel, Satchel
The Colonel, Satchel
Reigning from on high!
Reigning from on high!

The Colonel is a large gray striped tom cat from the shelter. Named Satchel because he can be carried with one arm like a piece of luggage (aka Gray Cat or Big Guy). A savage warrior in another life, Satch stocks through the house yowling in displeasure when the water bowl is empty or he wants out. A brutal leader, he slaps down other members of the Brigade with a single snap of his long paw. Sure of his position, he spends most of his time basking in the sun. In the winter, he reigns from on high by seeking out the printer. He is an indoor/outdoor ruler with an electric collar to keep him in his boundaries. Left to his own devices, he would be fox bait in a heartbeat.

The Captain

Captain Violet
Captain Violet

Captain Violet, the rat terrier weighing in at 12 pounds (aka The Terrorist) is an unstoppable force of energy. Bred to be a tireless working dog, Violet would like to challenge the rat terrier killing record of one terrier killing 2,501 rats in a seven hour span in an infested barn. Fortunately or unfortunately depending on your species, no rats available at Ashtree Way.  Violet  came from the shelter with a note  that said, “This dog only knows how to run away and is incapable of love.”  The first day at Ashtree, Violet ran away. After participating in mucho grande dog training,  Violet knows “place”, “sit”, “stay” and “wait”. She will not walk on a leash, whines in the car, has a voracious appetite gobbling down any tidbit on the floor, and has gone through the front screen door chasing other dogs.  Her bark is BIG, comparable to a power saw–a deafening 110 decibels, more frightening than a giant enraged German shepherd. An inside dog with a short smooth fur coat, she must be ordered outside to go potty. She can jump four feet from a standing position and frequently does  so at doors and windows.  Despite these flaws, she loves her people.   She fiercely attacks vacuums and lawn mowers having to be locked up when these snarling beasts sneak out of closets and garages violating her territory.

The Sergeant

The Sergeant, Angel
The Sergeant, Angel

A  part-Siamese white cat with pale blue eyes, Angel (aka White cat, Little Kitty, and Devil Cat) reports directly to the teenage Queen Bee. Queen Bee found white kitten at the shelter while on a Girl Scout expedition. Little Kitty comes to Queen Bee like a dog. She sneaks up under the table during dinner and sits on Queen Bee’s lap (though this is against house rules). She snuggles in Queen Bee’s lap watching TV, purring loudly. This is the Ying of her personality. Her Yang personality is devilish. She will sit with others purring contently and then bite without provocation. When the male college person chatters through his teeth  over the upstairs rail to the couch below, she chatters back communicating in some other-worldly language (ut-ut-ut-ut-aa).  An inside cat, she eats rubber bands and scotch tape, tearing strips off packages and  entire rolls.

Devil cat guarding Queen Bee's shoes
Devil cat guarding Queen Bee’s shoes

The Private

Private Shani
Private Shani

Shani, a large mini collie with a tawny coat, is the only purebred on the team.  A mother’s day gift, she comes from a ranch in Council, Idaho.  She is extremely shy and is frequently bullied by the Captain and Sergeant who routinely steal her food.  She comes when called, sits and stays on command and follows behind on a walk without a leash. Young men visiting Ashtree like to pet her head and tell her how soft her fur is.  She spends her days outside  guarding the yard, always alert for trucks, horses, foxes, and quail. When  foreign critters encroach,  she runs along fence sharply barking. She gets car sick  so seldom travels.  A delightful pooch outside,  inside  she is happy follower, causing all sorts of unexpected damage.

Next Week—Part 2, Adventures of Washrag Brigade

Goin’ for Broke

Some people knit while watching TV, I write free verse about what I’m viewing.  My daughter and I like to watch The Voice and America’s Got Talent. Let me know if  I captured the contestants’ emotions.the voice

Goin’ for Broke

Standing in the dark shadows,

Gut twisted in knots,

Stomach clenched.

Sweat trickles down my temple, tickling my ear,

My shirt sticks to my back.

My heart is pounding—kaboom! kaboom!

Can no else hear that beat?


An aspen quaking in the breeze.

My palms are clammy and cold.

My nerves are stretched taut,

Shredded rubber bands on steroids.

I’m totally alone!

Action is the only choice,

My harsh inner critic caterwauling,

“Don’t blow this!”

I breathe in, out,

The marvel of circulation

Calming my fears, quieting my mind.

Deep inside, a whisper,

“I’ve got this!”

Hearing my name called,

I step into the spot light.spotlight

Harnessing all that crazy energy inside,

Bouncing around like a ping pong ball.

This is my moment!”

Pushing full throttle past my fears

Believing in myself,

I plunge ahead, risking everything!

Pulsating adrenaline cracks my veneer,

Exposing my soul,

Releasing my inimitable self.

I feel totally alive!

celebrating life


They scurry by outside my office window,

red-squirrelRat-like but fluffier with poofy tails;

They lack the guile of most rodents.

The lady next door feeds them daily

Sprinkling bird seed on the ground

Taming their wild spirits but not domesticating them.

They scamper towards the kernels

Grabbing the small nuggets with their tiny black claws

Like manna from heaven.

They are half breeds,

No longer self reliant but not a pet, Funny-Squirrels-Funny-Squirrel-Picture-25-FunnyPica_com_-140x140

Somewhat tame but still aloof,

They exist in a limbo land.

Urbanization has stolen all but five of their trees,

Leaving a play ground of cement, gravel and asphalt.

They dash behind cars, and trash cans,

Hiding from humans by placing themselves in harm’s way.

My coworkers find them annoying pests

Squirel with gun

Flashing my badge to exit the building,

Something furry brushes by.

BAM!  The door slams tight.

I peer through the glass.

Five inches off the ground, bright black eyes stare back.

I’m locked out. He’s in.

We’re both terrified.

 I’m clumsy.  He’s quick.

 Frightened, he darts farther into the unknown.

 I fumble through my coat, petrified;

Oh no, I have lost sight of the little devil.

 Frantic, I search for badge and beast.

Where did he go?

Found it! Swipe, yank! The door is open.

I need a miracle.

 Here he comes,

Propelled like a rocket, down the hall, out the door.

BAM! The door slams tight.

“Thank God!”

I breathe a sigh of relief,

But  I  still feel squirrelly.

Funny-Squirrels-Funny-Squirrel-Picture-red eyed

Joy Rising–Balloons over Boise

It’s 6:45 on a clear, cool morning early September morning.  A perfect morning for ballooning. The air is absolutely still, gray skies as the sun rises and folks slowly gather along the dusty ridge above Anne Morrison Park.  The voice of well known TV personality Larry Gephart,  wafts through the trees.  “ A great day to be in Boise…The sun will be coming up soon….”

We can hear the propane fires starting up that lift the balloons.  Each balloon makes a loud roaring sound when the propane burner  is lit. The folks on the ridge don’t see anything yet, we get excited as we hear the high pitched growling of the flames filling the balloons. The promise of balloons launching soon.

There are exclamations of surprise as the first balloon, red white and blue peaks above the pine trees below.  In just minutes, the sky is full of balloons and more are rising out of the trees.  The woman next to me is counting out loud with her boys.  We are up to 32 and finally 48 total.

Boiseians have seen the balloons driving to work and school. They pull their cars over and crowd up along the barrier bounding ridge joining the pre-dawn  spectators.  The balloons are in the air for only minutes, timing is everything.   But for a magical moment, all of us on the ridge stand in awe, glad to be alive, outdoors and soaking in the colors, sunrise, and truly understanding the beauty of the earth

I love the balloons.  Boise, the balloons and I have a long tradition.  When I first moved to Boise in 1996, my son Scott was just a little over two years old.  He is 21 and half now.  I remember right after we moved  we were living in a very small house in West Boise. I was very lonely for my friends I’d left in Wyoming. I was in the kitchen making breakfast and Scott was in living room watching TV. Scott ran in grabbed my hand and shouted,  “Ba-loon, Ba-loon”, literally pulling me into the living room. There in the front yard of our rental house was a balloon coming down.  Amazing–a total surprise, a true delight, from out of nowhere.Balloon 2015

We moved to the foothills soon after.  While Scott was  in preschool, we would rise early,  go down to lower foothills and watch for the balloons.   We would chase them in the car as they flew through the air and watch them land.  One year we caught the pink energizer bunny, another year Scott was swallowed in the jaws of a ferocious-looking green T-Rex as it collapsed to the ground.  Scott was delighted when he emerged from its jaws unscathed.

On clear days, from my kitchen window, I frequently see a single balloon out floating far off in the distance.   I have been up in a balloon once and found the experience exhilarating.  I understand these solo adventurers seeking perspective on life, experiencing a rare sense of freedom because they are truly from desks, phones, offices and traffic noise, sharing the skies with feathered creatures, but mostly riding alone.

Mammoth homes have been built on the foothills where Scott and I would sit. My son has gone off to college.  Alone now,  I jump out of bed in my sweats to get down to see the balloons rising.  Every year during the Boise Balloon Festival, I experience pure joy that I am alive in Boise, Idaho and able to experience this exact moment.