Migrations

I would like to start by saying that I miss you all very much and would be very happy to have you all back at home at least for a while.

As I was thinking about it I came to realize that this has been quite long migration season, and it might be worth while to document who has come and gone, who has gone and not come and who has come and not gone. Let’s review the statistics of the migration before I dive into the details. I’m sure you’ll find the figures depicted below quite fascinating:

Let me begin by explaining the structure of the chart. The chart illustrates the fluctuations of the bird, beast and relatives population patterns in our house over the course of the past nine weeks. Some phenomenon lasted far less than a week but I will get to that later. The X axis of the graph counts the weeks, The Z axis of the graph counts the average number of the members of a species for the given week. The Y axis lists the species themselves. The legends provides further detail but can be ignored as it is difficult to differentiate the gray shades of a black-and-white printout.

I chose to focus on the most common species in the house. To prune these down I completely ignored those populations that are constantly stable e.g. the ants and the fruit fly worms (the latter have actually been very scarce this year as a result of the poor fruit harvest that we had). Since their numbers are constant they can be ruled out as contributors to any of the observed behaviors.

The species observed included flies, cockroaches, men, women (ladies), birds, dogs and fish. The arrows emphasize the points in time where there was a change in the population of the women in the house. If you follow the arrows from the upper left to the bottom right they represent the following events: Yeela leaves, Neta arrives, Neta leaves, Tal Leaves and Ima leaves (no wonder we’re lonely back here) The numbers of all these species have fluctuated significantly over the course of the summer with the exception of men. The reader might ask why ‘men’ are included if other stable species have been excluded from the observation. There are multiple reasons for this. First and foremost the fact that the writer is the man left in the house to do the observations and I would like to take credit for it. Second it could be that the assumption that constant populations can be ignored is completely bogus so why ignore all of them. Third this really isn’t a scientific study, its more of a love letter so one can write anything he wants.

The amount of information gathered is so overwhelming that its difficult to figure out where to begin. Lets begin by reviewing each data sets independently. With the time available to complete this letter being as short as it is it might not be possible to provide any serious analysis of the raw numbers but I’ll do my best.

Flies: These are the shiny green animals that we have flying all over the house. In my previous letter I mentioned reasons for having them in the first place and I will not repeat my earlier reasoning. If you look back at the chart you’ll notice a steep decline in the size of the fly population. This decline happened in the week that Ima flew to Israel. The dramatic reduction in population count once the last lady migrated east provides additional supporting evidence that my previous assumptions were correct[1]. I was somewhat satisfied with the conclusions reached in the previous letter, however I was not completely satisfied with the findings. I don’t know if you recall but many flies that come to dine at our place fall pray to Ima’s cleaning chemicals (or at least so it seems). Once she successfully sprays them with detergents fifty to sixty times the poor animals fall limply on the window sills and eventually die. It’s the small nuances of the events that got me thinking, about what was really going on.

You know my little corner next to the window in the salon? Well right there on the window sill is where quite a few bodies of green shiny flies are laid bare in the glaring sun, their unburied carcasses in plain view of their cousins on the other side of the net. As I observed the live flies and their dead relatives something caught my eye. It seemed that the dead flied were shinier that the live ones. At first I dismissed the thought as sheer delirium. After all I too have been exposed to all those detergents spayed on those flies. ‘The flies outside the net have their undersides facing me, while the ones in the graveyard have their backs facing me so of course their colors are different’. But then I started paying closer attention to the ones that were alive inside. I didn’t have that many flies to observe because after Ima left for Israel their numbers dropped dramatically. In spite of the sudden lack of flies the few that did come to visit were clearly less shiny that the ones that perished during Ima’s era.

Two facts kept troubling me. First the number of flies drops dramatically after Ima leaves. Logic would have it that it would be the exact opposite. Ima was chasing them with a vengeance, trying to kill them indiscriminately (in the sense that at times it seemed that she didn’t really care what her chemical annihilation projects were doing to the rest of the species in the house). The second fact was even more perplexing. The dead flies seemed to be in much better shape then the live ones. ‘Well they must have been the healthiest in the bread, given that each one of them had to be drenched with window cleaner fluid fifty times’ ‘before it passed away’, ‘before it passed’, ‘before’, how about ‘until its time had come?’. THAT’S IT !!!. Ima never killed a fly in her life. She wasn’t destroying the healthiest flies in the breed either (how can you re-destroy the healthiest week after week?). What was really happening was very simple. The flies had a double arrangement. ‘First we dine’, and then ‘We get our legs and wings washed by the nice lady of the house’ ‘and she’ll wash us over and over and over’ ‘until our dying day’ @#!!!

If you have trouble coming to terms with where I’m going with this consider the fact that the average life span of a house fly is about a week. Given that Ima would go on a spaying spree once every hour that’s about ten times a day and fifty times per fly during its lifetime. That should have been more than enough to guarantee that these flies would be in top shape after the intensive care they got on an hourly basis. Why they would even get their wings dried with the kitchen towels that we use to dry our hands withif anyone or anything should be dead its us, not the flies.

I found great consolation in the fact that I’m married to a woman who couldn’t harm a fly With my heart at rest and my soul aching to set the record straight with this wonderful woman (this last sentence is one of the only true sentences in the entire letter) I frantically strove to complete the theory that explains the fly migration pattern as it is supported by the evidence:

House flies like most other animals are territorial and guard their territory with great zeal. The flies in our house were specially bread by Ima to become a stronger and better looking species. They had come to live longer and have bigger and healthier children. All thanks to the quality of the food and the highly sanitary conditions in which they were brought up, by what we now know is the great fly zoologist, your mother and my beloved wife. These flies lived and breaded in our house and kept other flies from coming in. They themselves refused to go out (why would they). This explains the confusing evidence regarding the screens having to be open or closed. The truth is that it never really mattered. The population was bread in the house and would have stayed and grown happily had it not been for Tamar’s wedding.

Once Ima left for Israel their living conditions deteriorated overnight. They failed to find food and their daily visits to the sauna were brought to an abrupt end. Looking at the charts I think its all for the best. We now have a very average number of flies, albeit uglier, in the house, regardless of the state of the doors and screens.

Cockroaches: As the chart shows the number of cockroaches dropped very much like the number of flies dropped. I chose to include the cockroaches in the study simply because of the educational value of the observation. In reality none of us had really gone to great lengths to analyze the cockroach population patterns or affect its growth in any way. They were simply living with us, happily confined to the grange and their shower, leaving the interior of the house to us and our flies.

In case you don’t know what I’m talking about let me begin by asking you to help clean out the grange every once in a while. If you do that you will notice that among the papers, sticks, dolls, toys, shoes, hats, wigs, costumes, knapsacks, chairs, bicycles, food items, dirty laundry, light bulbs, brooms, suitcases, balls, vacuum cleaner, washing machine, refrigerator, pogo stick, walking sticks, hockey sticks, umbrellas, carton boxes, mattresses, computer equipment AND ALL THE REST OF THE STUFF THAT REALLY DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THERE, there are a few shinny cockroaches that like to run around under the shelves that hold the paint cans, the old games that nobody will ever play with, books, maps, clothes, electrical appliances, fire wood and carpets.

In case you got lost in the details there are cockroaches in that pile. In case you haven’t notices there used to be a puddle near the backdoor to the garage. In case you haven’t noticed the puddle disappeared when Ima replaced the leaky boiler. In case you haven’t noticed the cockroaches disappeared (well almost) after the puddle disappeared. Ima had tuned off their shower.

To be quite honest with you I wasn’t sure I should tell you this. With all the concern to keep the flies clean and shinny, was the shutting down of the cockroach bath accidental or intentional? Well the good news is that not all is lost. As you can see from the chart a pair of cockroaches showed up this week and perhaps the species can be resurrected. After all they are know to be one of the most resilient species on the planet. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that two million years from now when we are totally gone as a race the (so may times) great grandchildren of the pair that we had chosen to preserve would still be living where 739 Durshire used to stand?

Back to reality, it wouldn’t require much to make that happen. Not much if you’re willing to divert some of the energy you used to spend taking care of the birds (which is now no longer requiredoops I shouldn’t have said that yet but I guess the chart says it all), to help the roaches. To some up the cockroach part of our observations, this is really an open issue. It is up to us as a family to decide whether we want continuity on our premises or let them take their dirty, smelly business else where and leave our garage alone. We can talk about it when you get back.

Birds: The birds have learnt to fly and then they learnt to disappear. This for a change had nothing to do with Ima. It appears that Ima affects only the lower species. The following is a brief description of the events as they unraveled. First they had a visitor from the yard next door. This was a yellow and green canary that had the head of a Tweety bird (oh how I wish Tweety could fly as well). I opened the door to their cage hoping that the visitor would come in. Instead one of our canaries walked out to the new comer. The new comer would give our cling-to-the-cage bird a ‘you’re-pathetic’ look and would fly back to its yard. This pattern of events repeated. itself a few times. Finally our canary decided to try to imitate the visitor and fly after it. It first flew directly into the roof above and banged itself against it. ‘Bird-brain’ I though to myself and watched the dazed bird attempt to stabilize itself in mid air. It hovered for a few seconds like a drunk hummingbird and then dropped a few feet and flew gracefully to where the new bird had flown. ‘Amazing’ I thought to myself. ‘Flying is like riding a bicycle, you never forget how to do it’. Does this mean that if I teach Tweety to ride a bicycle she would also know how to fly?

The second canary stood in the cage for a few more hours and then walked out and flew away. Osmo was very concerned for the first few days, but Ima having already established herself as a protector of animal species easily convinced him that the time was right to let the birds fly to their freedom (and almost certain death, but who gives a damn). They were evil birds who used to shit on our walls and they deserve the fate that befalls them.

With the animal species reduced to a pair of cockroaches IMA FLEW TO ISRAEL leaving a ruined animal kingdom with only the boys and Tweety and myself behind. The great animal lover was gone and it was time for some species to recover. The first species that began to grow in numbers were the fish. That makes sense if you think about it. God followed the same order the first time he created life on this planet.

Osmo and Tintin brought home a pair of gold-fish from the kaytana. Unlike our previous schools of gold fish these were a bit different. First of all they were about a third of the size of the 20 cents gold-fish that we usually attempt to raise. Being a third of the size they were about a tenth of the weight. Actually they were not much bigger than the well-to-do flies which we talked about earlier in our study. They weren’t really gold either. I guess I don’t know what they were. We obviously took good care of them, the same way we always treat gold fish. We put them in the fish-tank, and we added food, and we even added water. This worked very well because they managed to live for five whole days (on average), The first one passed away after three days, and his lively relative was found floating upside down four days later. We gave then the traditional flush-down-the-toilet burial ceremony, and peed them down to the sea. I held the second funeral ceremony by myself, believing that the boys have seen to much animal agony over the past few months.

With all the animals coming and going, reproducing where there was shade and water, and dying where there was too much food and too much water, or the lack of one or the other, or what did control it all? I was beginning to get confused and worried. If I didn’t understand what made it all tick, could I anticipate the next animal migration?

And then the mattress walked in !!! For a minute I looked at the mattress, ‘my you have deteriorated from the time I first put you outside’ I said to myself. The mattress used to be light pink with a smooth silk like texture. Now it was filthy gray with a very rough almost fur like look. ‘If the mattress is walking in its condition then something is very wrong’. Memories from may parents’ kitchen where entire sections had been taken over by the bugs began running through my mind. ‘So that’s where the cockroaches went’. ‘They all moved into the mattress and now their bringing it into the house to stay’. Kitchen table drawers that are infested yet closed I could deal with. But a mattress infested with insects, and their being able to determine which room they want to carry it into way a very frightening thought. Before I completely lost my wits the mattress barked at Tweety

‘What in the name of @#^%’, a second DOG, and one of the ugliest looking ones too. It was a Saturday morning, and I had returned from my swim. The boys were across the street with Jason, and I was in the house with Tweety. I was standing by the microwave. The door to the garage was open. Tweety was a few feet away from me next to the computer desk. Suddenly Tweety appeared to focus her view at the bottom left side of the doorway between the living room and the garage. I followed the direction of her gaze and then I saw it too. (This is the part where the hasty description of the mattress fits in). There was a small, Grey, very bad looking terrier in the doorway. ‘Now this is good’. ‘Why can’t you go visit places where you’ll really be appreciated, like out neighbor form across the street for example?’. That would have been really nice to see. If the lady threatens to sue when she sees a dog on her lawn, what would she do if the dog was in her house? But the dog was not in her house, the dog was not her dog, the dog was not my dog but the dog was in my house. (Kinda reminds you of Doctor Seuss doesn’t it?).

Before I could react the mattress walked through the living room and into the back yard. ‘That animal sure has some nerve’ I said to myself, and then I saw the hockey stick lying in front of the basketball pole. ‘Now my hairy friend, I will make sure that you share the bad memories that many other animal species before you have of Durshire 739’. I ran out to the yard and grabbed the Hockey stick, The mattress ran into the trees and started barking at me. ‘This is going to be fun’ I thought as I started chasing after the mattress. It was faster than me A few seconds later the mattress was headed in the only healthy direction it had: back where it came from. The mattress ran back into the living room, through the garage and out to the sidewalk. I was chasing after him when a blood curdling thought crossed my mind: ‘This is California, I’d be better off seen chasing a person with an ax, than chasing a mattress with a hockey stick’. I froze in the garage and quickly made gestures of attempting to find a place for the incriminating hockey stick. The mattress just stood on the sidewalk and barked at me.

‘If I can’t go after him I’ll have to wait for him inside’. I went back to stand by the microwave oven, this time with a sandal in hand. The mattress showed his head in the door a few second later. The sandal flew towards the door but again the mattress was faster. This time however he fled farther. I wend out to the sidewalk and did the good old pick-up-a-rock gesture. Its amazing how all dogs know they have to run farther when they see that gesture. The mattress did not return. The next day I saw it walking a very ugly lady past our house. ‘Well, you might be after my dog, but I’m not going after your owner’

The mattress ordeal left me a bit shaken. It was an inconclusive victory but never-the-less I had managed to keep the dog population of the house down to one. If Tweety would learn to fly I might be able to bring it down to 0

This has been a long and confusing migratory season.. Could everyone please come home. Can we just put all the numbers back where they belong: two girls, two boys, one woman, one man, and if we must one and only one dog?

I haven’t said a word about the boys, other than the fact that they have not migrated during the summer. Well they do deserve a lot of credit for being at their best during the past two weeks. They didn’t complain about not eating, they asked for Pokemon only once, they wash themselves daily and Tintin read to the three of us. His reading has really come a long way. You can tell that he reads and understands, and he reading is fast enough to keep even my troubled mind focused.

Nir and Guy Slept over yesterday. Ben and Dean are sleeping over tonight. This is definitely the wrong kind of population to keep around over time. However I will have to tolerate it as a build my child-credit accounts with some of the mothers in the community. I’ll need to cash in on these investments on Monday and Tuesday.

Love you, miss you, have a safe and pleasant flight,

Bushy.

[1] For reader who have missed the previous letter a brief summary is provided. Two assumptions were introduced. The first is that flies like filth and they like it even better when it is moist and sweet. Watermelon juice drenched used paper towels are excellent meeting places for flies. The second assumption that was raised was the fact that flies cannot fly through nets. The second argument might seem obvious however it must be brought in context. In objection to the first argument it was stated that the flies remained even though the juice pits had been disposed of. Well if the nets are shut the damn critters that are already in cannot get out, CAN THEY? But then this is a footnote and we should not get emotional about it.