Why Did the Deer Cross that Road?

About 5:10 or 5:15 this afternoon, I was down here at my lower-level office, and I heard Hopper the black Tibetan terrier bark and growl. Stewie the schnauzer and his dad already had their walk so it wasn’t them irritating this watchdog. I didn’t see any UPS truck from my window so I went upstairs and looked from Hopper’s viewpoint, from the living room window.

Then I saw the deer, a doe, I guess, having no antlers, smallish but likely full grown so a young adult. It was in the vacant lot across Valley View and to the right, north of the Steeles’ house, heading toward Wedington Drive.

I decide to quietly step out the front door, and it did not notice me. It was intent on watching Wedington. It wanted to cross that four-lane state highway spur. It had gotten close to Wedington’s sidewalk at that point.

Just then, Trish from next door (to the left) drove her dark gray minivan down. She slowed, must’ve seen the deer as well. I don’t know if she had either or both of her boys in the car. The deer noticed her minivan and froze. Then Trish took off, to the right, east.

The deer did a little pacing, trying to time the cars. It was 5:15 and as high as traffic gets there, outside of just before or after a Razorback game. I froze, too.

There was a slight gap, sort of, in eastbound traffic, and the deer walked briskly, not a run, into the street. From the right, going west, were a few vehicles. Would the deer make it? It would if it ran. In the inside westbound lane, so nearest me, traveled a white full-sized van, about in speed with the rest of the traffic so not slow but not barreling down, either.

The white van struck the deer broadside, on its right chest mainly. The deer was airborne not that many feet. I saw its white belly so it must’ve rotated some in the air, and it landed on the outside lane, hitting the asphalt with its left side.

Then it scampered up, righting itself, and trotted through the yard on the north side of Wedington.

I saw no limp.

Traffic in either direction slowed. The white van proceeded very slowly. I saw no damage to it, no cracked windshield, although I think the deer hit the glass more than the bumper or hood.

I walked down our driveway. It just started to rain again (it was drizzling off and on all afternoon). Once into the street I saw the white van come back in the same direction. It must’ve made three rights. And it turned into that yard’s driveway. A man got out of the driver’s side, wearing a light brown or dark tan windbreaker kind of jacket — it was dusk and the sky heavily overcast — and walked toward the back-left of the house where he, as well as I, had seen the deer scamper to.

By this point I was nearly to Wedington. I saw that deer run right, eastward, I guess away from the man on foot. I lost sight of the deer at Oak, the next cross street over. It’s the top of a little hill at that point.

I don’t think the driver saw the deer at all like I just did. In a moment or two he got back into his van and drove away.

I walked toward Oak and decided not to cross Wedington at rush hour. I wouldn’t see the deer at that point; it’d run from me if it hadn’t already continued north along or near Oak Street.

I believe the deer was trying to catch up with a mate, its family or the rest of its little herd. It was trying not to get left too far behind, if I’m reading its mind correctly.

We have deer here sometimes. There seems to be a deer path under a set of north-south utility lines that goes between the houses in this Sunset Hills neighborhood.

While I’m guessing, I don’t see how this doe could not have avoided internal injuries and broken ribs. Its legs obviously are fine. This has left me hoping it finds its fellow deer and lives a while among them. I don’t see how it could survive for a lot of hours after being hit by a 30 mph or 45 mph van.

I went back inside for Hopper and Mani, leashed them up and walked them a little up and down our lane. Then I brought them inside and fed dinner to them and the cats.

Zapping Ethics

This is a retail dilemma, drafted as a timeline. In writing out the end, a wicked solution crystallizes, It would be wrong, but I want to.

The Whirlpool WMC2005YD has the electronics under the microwave, saves space. Smart, right?
The Whirlpool WMC2005YD has the electronics under the microwave, saves space. Smart, right?

Disclaimer. No retail dilemma ever is a real problem, not with poverty, injustice and threats to democracy always looming large. But this quandary can be solved.

April 2013 — Our countertop microwave oven trips its circuit breaker a few times. Good brand, had it about five years, the one before that was a good 15, but that’s planned obsolescence for you. My Beloved and I decide this one’s mine. Both of us handle these issues the same way, obsessive research, in person and online.

May 6 — I find a medium-size zapper with great online reviews: The mechanics are tucked under the oven so it takes minimal counter space. Local stores do not offer it, Lowes.com has the best price online, so I buy it for $129, plus tax but free shipping.

May 10 — The Whirlpool WCM2005YD seems to work well. About all we do is heat water for tea and warm up leftovers. But a few days later when I want to “bake” an Idaho potato, which calls for four minutes then another two-three minutes, not just 60 or 90 seconds, things get weird. The Whirlpool would cook for about a minute, then beep repeatedly and the timer would start going up, not down. The cook-time to which it rose never was the same twice — six or 11 minutes, 45 minutes another time — but if I had left the kitchen to watch TV,  a fire might have started.

I unplug the machine to reset it, and that seems to fix it.

The well-designed Whirlpool WMC2005YD in a model kitchen, not mine. No splashes or crowding, see?
The well-designed Whirlpool WMC2005YD in a model kitchen, not mine. No splashes or crowding, see? Source kitchen-design-ideas.org

July 4 — For the first time since the initial odd problem, I try to zap a sweet potato. I leave the kitchen and run back when I smell something foul. The yam is blackened and smoking, and the new microwave-safe Rubbermaid bowl in which it sat has melted and browned in one spot. I test with water in a glass measuring cup; again the timer resets itself upward randomly.

July 5 — The customer-service rep on the 800 number for Lowes.com says it cannot accept a return of a microwave but to phone the manufacturer. Whirlpool’s phone rep cites its policy that the unit first has to go to the nearest authorized service center. If it can’t fix it, then a new microwave will be shipped to me. The service center is in nearby Springdale. I drive it over that afternoon.

July 9 — A-Tech Appliance Services is professional and friendly. Its technician finds a “bad magnetron,” which cannot be repaired or replaced. I am to call Whirlpool to arrange this, so I do. Whirlpool tells me I will be phoned to confirm shipping arrangements within 48 hours and for me to phone the day after if I had not heard.

I tell Whirlpool for the first time (then every time thereafter) that I should’ve bought a GE microwave in a local store that I could’ve exchanged in minutes — minutes! — if something had been found defective. Then I request overnight shipping. They always reply they cannot help further, as that is another department.

July 12 — This day’s Whirlpool customer service rep — they all say they’re in Benton Harbor, Mich., and they sound it — says while he found my main records he cannot find the shipping arrangements, so it must be “in process” and for me to phone again on July 15 if I had not heard from them.

July 15 — “Anthony” at Whirlpool says they have “no trace of a shipment order” and he resubmits it. He tells me to phone Whirlpool on July 17 if I have not heard.

July 17 — “Carol” says a shipping order indeed was set up July 15 and I will get a replacement microwave in “three to four weeks.” Another month?

I tell her that is unacceptable, she puts me on hold and says a “rush” has been placed for me, and I would get the WMC2005YD in two weeks, specifically seven to 10 business days. She says that is the quickest that department operates then apologizes for any inconvenience.

I heat the water kettle on the stove for a mug of tea.

Back on July 9, A-Tech asks if I want the defective and dangerous microwave back or should they dispose of it. Naturally, I say they should toss it. Today, I phone them and ask if they still had it. They do! I’m picking it up this afternoon.

I then phone the 800 number for Lowes.com to insist on returning the defective Whirlpool microwave to a local Lowe’s store. There’s arrangements to be for that, “Erin” says, and the local Lowes’ manager will phone me in under 24 hours.

Hmm. What will Lowe’s tell Whirlpool corporate, anything? I could get a GE microwave at the Sixth Street Lowe’s after turning in my unit, and in two weeks a new Whirlpool oven will be FedEx’d to me (supposedly). I could give one to a good local charity.

Or is that defrauding a giant corporation over its lip-service customer service?

And to think, I am a former Whirlpool employee.

In 1979, I was on its Fort Smith, Ark., assembly line, bolting condenser coils into the bottoms or backs of freezers and refrigerators as a college summer job. After Whirlpool closed that facility a few months ago, reports began that grounds in the area were contaminated with trichloroethylene.

One problem will take longer to solve.


Sofa, So Good

Guardian Angels of Mercy II: Around 3:30 p.m. Monday 7 January 2013, I’m driving my wife and our two dogs in the Prius north on I-540 for coffee at a new place then a dog-walk. We’re a mile south of “Guardian Angels of Mercy I,” north of Fulbright Expressway (mall exit), after the bend and just in sight of the Johnson exit.

Car-L, as I call the 2007 red Toyota Prius, was bought in early 2009, after a wreck just north of the Johnson exit totaled my previous conveyance the previous December. My Brick recalling the accident explains what happened when a southbound truck lost a wheel and bounced across the median into my path.

I see cars slowing in front of me, then a white sport utility vehicle directly in front of me suddenly pull over onto the shoulder. I begin braking, am confused. What’s in front of the SUV lying across the outer lane?

Black leather or vinyl, maybe 3 feet by 8 feet — the back of a sofa? That’s all it can be.

I didn’t even consider whether to drive over or around it to the left. The only right thing seemed to be to pull over onto the shoulder, behind the SUV and stop.

My Beloved is shouting, “Pull over, pull over.” For a blessed change, we agree on my driving decisions.

There was medium traffic behind me and ahead, what? The SUV’s driver is walking into the lane and lifted and carried the sofa back off (why not drag it, that’d be faster?). Now he’s standing just a few feet in front of me, holding it, and obviously wondering what to do with it. Slender middle-aged fellow, dressed casual to shabby.

None of this takes even five seconds.

Looming in my rearview mirror is a big old black Cadillac (’80s?). That one brakes, hard, and spins out one and a half times. The Caddy comes really really really close to the back of Car-L. But it stops, sideways, nose in the outer lane and rear in the shoulder behind me.

What of our pair of Tibetan terriers sitting in the back seat, one in a crate and one loose, expecting a walk in a park. They would have been hit first.

They, not to mention My Beloved and I, still are vulnerable, if other vehicles slam into the Cadillac.

Its driver I now see is elderly, rather distinguished looking. A solid thunk, and it might be over for all of us, especially the fellow standing in front of my car hood.

Other northbound cars, though, are slowing then stopping. We’re all clear.

Now what?

In the exit lane ahead I see a light-colored pickup, pulled over, whose bed is full of stuff. That must be where the sofa back fell from. Heck, it could’ve been a couch seat, minus legs, I don’t give a hoot at this point.

No crashes no injuries. If I pull out then the old guy can finish turning his black Caddy and move out, too.

There we go. He stays in my mirror until I pull off at Springdale’s U.S. 412 exit — driving on, driving extra cautiously, as am I.

Skies clear and 50 degrees. Road dry and clear.

Now what? To-go coffees at that new Springdale place and a calming walk for the four of us around the Har-Ber neighborhood.

What else?

Copyright 2013 Ben S. Pollock

Saturday Surprises

The Tibetans — terriers not people — Mani and Hopper needed a vigorous walk today. The humans’ leash schedules intersected once: me and morning.

Mani and Hopper with a Hank Kaminsky "sacred stone" April 2012
Tibetan terriers Mani and Hopper with a Hank Kaminsky “sacred stone” April 2012. Ben Pollock photo

I aimed my Prius, Kar-L, toward Wilson Park. It’s empty, maybe not too odd going toward noon on a July Saturday, but to the west we saw an inline roller-skater and an older couple on a tandem bicycle on the Frisco Trail. So it’s the path for us.

The first surprise was the lively Hopper after 50 yards stopped still in the middle of the walkway. A problem? There it sat. He’s normally shy in public with toileting, and when the need arises he moves to the grass. Not this time.

I cleaned it up. We do that in Fayetteville.

We’re walking south toward Dickson Street, a favorite walk so all tails point skyward, Hopper with that jaunty bounce he carries even when tired and thirsty, and the older and smaller Mani trotting gamely, always the first to tire, but not yet.

Two northward bicyclists slow as we approach. Why, it’s local folk musician Susan Shore and her friend whose name I keep forgetting. No matter: We all keep walking and pedaling after quick waves and hi’s.

We three rarely see people we know; that happens more when My Beloved joins the pack.

Within moments, there’s a whistle. The Arkansas & Missouri is approaching from the south. The Frisco Trail runs parallel and just feet from the track. The noise bothers Mani terribly. We only rescued Hopper last Thanksgiving, and I don’t know how he’ll react.

The A&M runs a tourist excursion to Van Buren on weekends, but this train is a freight and pretty long. We’re approaching Maple Street so I move us off east from the trail and the diesel engine and squeaking steel wheels. Mani howls, like he does when the phone rings. Hopper, heck — he must’ve come across rails in his presumably nomadic Benton County puppyhood after he ran away from or was turned loose by the first owners — was not flustered.

Back to the trail, and passing the new Arsaga’s on Dickson. This one opened a month ago, reclaiming an old, secondary depot as a creperie. I fantasized that if it wasn’t lunchtime Saturday, I’d ask the manager, friend Daniel Estes, for a pair of custom canine crepes — buckwheat batter and some egg cooked on top. We’d all eat by the herb garden below the deck. Of course the cafe’s instant popularity continues so that will have to happen some other time.

Pups and I arrive at the destination, a bench on Dickson Street, by the old train station itself, now a Chipotle grill. I serve as much water as they’ll drink then exchange broken-up Bil-Jac biscuits for shake-hands and lie-downs.

Returning, I see a cute girl, maybe 3, and her parents, by the creperie. The dad is taking pictures, as a tourist would, of a loose but collared dog. Hopper sniffs the yellow Lab politely, not aggressively for a change, and Mani follows suit. The dog walks toward a young barefoot woman some distance away, obviously the owner.

The little girl is happily peeling papery bark off a newly planted birch tree near the cafe’s deck, the mother watching.

This angers me. This could maim this otherwise healthy sapling. As a Scout I was taught to take this ideal kindling of birch bark from fallen limbs. But this is not my place, and shouldn’t some nearby diner or an Arsaga’s server say something?

We walk on, but I change my mind and return.

“Excuse me,” I say to the mother, “but she might be hurting that young tree.”

The young momma smiles blankly at me. The family is Korean, maybe Japanese, and the woman doesn’t understand a word.

The girl giggles and points and Hopper and Mani. Then the mother mimes at me to ask if the child can pet them.

For the next couple of minutes, the tree is safe. The girl enjoys the dogs, Hopper eager for attention and the shy Mani a few wary inches back.

We turn to the trail, the girl instantly back to peeling the birch.

But there’s a surprising installation: a bike repair station with a hand air pump and basic tools like Allen wrenches and screwdrivers, tethered by cables to a sky blue metal stand, with rubber-covered stubs to hang a bike from. A sign says it’s sponsored by the Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks.

Passing Maple again, Mani having slowed way down, a fit bicyclist a few years younger than me rolls toward us and waves. She sees my confusion and doffs her helmet and sunglasses, and still we stammer. “I don’t remember your name,” she says.

“And me, you. I’m Ben.”

“I’m Robin. I met you and your wife in tango class.”

So it was. My Beloved and I took a few weeks of lessons a few years ago, we’ll get back to it someday, and Robin had assisted the teacher, being a competing tango dancer herself.

Robin today had bicycled from Lake Fayetteville, she said. I’ve done pieces of that trek so I calculated it’d be at least 45-minutes’ ride from where we stood. Impressive. We talked pets and Arsaga’s for five minutes, then she hopped on, continuing south.

Nearing Kar-L, I watered the dogs under a shade tree, and we drove home.

This is why Fayetteville has been such a good fit for the Pollocks.


Mani languidly protecting 5 toys. The symmetric configuration is entirely his.
Mani guards 5 toys. The symmetric configuration is entirely his. Fifth is a plush tug toy parallel to the Nylabone behind his head. Black mass in upper left is Hopper.

I am not making this up. Nor did I touch the dog or his possessions. He did this.

Our 4-year Tibetan terrier Mani, whom we’ve had three years, loves Hopper, the stray young adult TT we adopted last Thanksgiving week. Inseparable. They can quarrel over toys, though.

Mani is the alpha although Hopper has 10 pounds on him (25 compared to 35). Mani keeps toys even when not playing with them. Hopper always lets him win. (They respect one another’s food, too).  Once we coalesced into the larger pack, within a month, all that turned old news by now.

What is extraordinary is how Mani arranged the booty last night while the humans watched Stewart-Colbert. Geometric. Three Nylabones at his paws, a fourth behind his head and parallel to his body and lying on part of a plush tug toy, parallel to the fourth bone.

We were told early on that Tibetan terriers tend to be tidy. This wasn’t, however, anything we’d noticed before. We like the breed for its medium size and moderate energy and relatively hypoallergenic coat. Otherwise both boys tend to leave things where they dropped them, like their people.

Two frames from 2001: A Space Odyssey showing a flying bone and a satellite in spaceMani could have an artistic sense of symmetry.

My third thought last night was the dog has developed Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, an otherwise human psychosis. OCD TT.

My second thought when I looked down from the sofa was Mani has seen the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. You know the scene, early in the movie, the apes receive an evolutionary (or counter-evolutionary) leap in wisdom, discovering tools, (for hunting, for food, for weapons). Our TT Mani, we better watch him, make sure those dew claws don’t develop into opposable thumbs!

My first thought? Grab the camera.

Budget Hawk Takes Bath

Hawk at home's near birdbath 16 July 2011. Photo by Ben S. PollockThere really was a hawk in our yard, I told My Beloved. She was out of town so this was on the phone. She believed me enough. After all, she’s the one who spotted the high nest this past spring, in an old oak in the back yard of the home next door. We occasionally saw a pair of hawks, and eventually we almost could see a couple of chicks poking their heads above the edge of the nest.

Across the our 1960s residential lane, we learned, a family of owls also had taken residence. We’ve heard their hoots but haven’t seen them. We also can hear hawk screeches.

Part of me thought this was a good thing. Predators would scare away the rabbits and opossums that eat my chard, sunflowers and bush beans to the ground. The latest folk remedy — a tablespoon of Tabasco in a quart of water, sprayed daily  — wasn’t working. Critters around here probably love hot stuff.

Two weeks ago, a doe appeared in our front yard one afternoon. Another deer was a couple of houses up. MB suspects, and she’s likely right, that new construction in formerly undeveloped areas to the west might be driving a variety of animals out.

Hawk alighting for far birdbath 16 July 2011. Photo by Ben S. PollockOne time a couple of weeks ago, I swore I might have seen a hawk perched on one of our two iron birdbaths. It was just as quickly gone, and I thought, that can’t be. But if it was, was it one of the hawk parents next door, or one of its young, grown rather large?

The sighting made me realize that when people swear by gardening fixes, other forces may be at play. My second planting of vegetables was doing OK — but this showed it might not be my garden pepper spray being effective.

Then Saturday, I was walking to the kitchen and through the enclosed sunporch I definitely saw a hawk. On the near birdbath’s rim. I backed up quietly then ran downstairs for the camera.

I shot a few frames through the glass. I had proof and could post here to Brick. Yet maybe I might get lucky and tiptoe through the back door and good one clear shot before it flew away.

Hawk at home's far birdbath 16 July 2011. Photo by Ben S. PollockThe hawk didn’t seem to care. I sat on a lawn chair for 20 minutes, watching and taking a number of shaky photos. These three were clear, though. At one point he flew to the birdbath closer to the back wall and fence. He calmly hung out there for a while, preening? Without better equipment, I had taken the best shots I could. When I stood, he looked around a moment then calmly flew away.

Did the hawk take a bath, like a robin or cardinal? Not that I saw. At one point his (or her) lower torso was fluffed out, but that was all. He may have leaned over for a quick sip of water twice.

I was out there long enough to worry. This guy is easily as big as either of our cats. Science says such sized birds go for very small animals, field mice, lizards and songbirds. But still. We let one cat out, on a harness, every few weeks for about an hour and under our supervision. Except when we go inside for a refill of tea. Now we won’t dare leave Tiki outside alone, even for a minute, tied up.

This hawk was not bathing, apparently, and he was not hunting. They do that from high in the air where the prey can’t see them. Unless the dude was admiring his reflection. War hawks, budget hawks, red-tailed hawks, at base they’re all feathers and fluff. And beaks and talons.