The Squirrel Experiment Continues – Days 21-28

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Experiment Day 21 – The squirrels have proven their worth. Two of my corn cobs are gone. My scientific study is paying off.

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Placing the two additional corn cobs on the branch seemed to do the trick. Given that the squirrels still haven’t touched the original test cob, a few scenarios are possible.

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The original cob may have been inherently undesirable (which I doubt, because they have never before turned their little squirrel noses up at free food. That makes me think that the problem was having the cobs at an accessible distance to the tree.

I’m going to leave that last cob up anyway and see if they try for it or not.

* * * * * * * * * *

This post was supposed to go live last Friday, but it didn’t. In the time between when it should have gone live and now, the squirrels have captured my final cob.

As a congratulations, I have decided to stock their original feeder with 4 large corn cobs. Hopefully, this will also smoothe over any ill will on their part for forcing them to take part in my study.

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The conclusion of my experiment is this: I am disappointed that I did not get to see any squirrels fall off of my tree. And I can’t be sure that it wasn’t actually my neighbors (or wife) who took the cobs down one at a time to make me think that it was the squirrels. Oh well.

What should I do for my next experiment?

The Squirrel Experiment Continues

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Experiment Day 12 – As of yet, the squirrels have not decided to participate in my scientific study.

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Perhaps the corn is too far from the tree. Perhaps it is too far from the ground.

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So I’m going to adjust some variables. I’ve added two more cobs. One closer to the branch. One closer to the ground. Both closer to the trunk.

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We all really want to see a squirrel take a diving leap and fall on his face. You know, for science.

Experimenting with Squirrels

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“For Science!”

That’s what I told my wife when she asked why I had tied an ear of corn to the tree in our front yard with some string. Well, technically, I tied it up there with dental floss, because we had just visited the dentist’s office and what else are you supposed to use it for?

“The neighbors are going to think there’s something wrong with us,” said my beautiful wife.

“No, they won’t,” I assured her. “If anything, they’ll think there’s something wrong with me. You are too pretty to have anyone think bad things about you.”

“Just explain to me the science part of what you’ve done here,” she said.

“Um,” I started. “I want to see if the squirrels want the corn badly enough to risk shimmeying down the floss to get it.”

It isn’t like I’m starving them. You’ll notice that I filled their regular squirrel feeder at the same time as I tied the experimental ear of corn up. I’m not cruel, you know. And so what if I’m going to hold off on restocking it for a few days after all the corn is gone? It’s my corn and my feeder and I don’t have to share if I don’t want to.

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“You just want to see a squirrel fall off the tree,” she said.

“For Science!” I exclaimed again. “Besides, just imagine how funny it would be if we were here to see it.”

“Okay,” she agreed. “It would be pretty funny.”

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*Portions of this conversation may or may not have happened like this in real life. I’m terrible at remembering how these things actually go.

Squirrel Farmers

No, I’m not talking about raising squirrels for meat. I’m talking about the fact that the squirrels in my yard are growing corn in my flowerbed.

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Not exactly knee-high by the 4th of July

When my wife first gave me my squirrel feeder, she joked that I was trying to get the squirrels to depend on the food I gave them instead of nature’s bounty, and that as soon as I stopped feeding them, they would die. But it turns out that the squirrels are more self-sufficient than either of us realized. They took the corn that I was feeding them and planted it, growing more for the rough days ahead so they would be taken care of in spite of me.

Teeny tiny corn cob

Teeny tiny corn cob

Meet the Cast Tuesday | Mr. Potsibald and Hezekiah

Today, we’ll meet a couple more characters from the Thom & Tom series. In case this is your first time here, my Thom & Tom stories fall into the category of flash fiction, meaning that they are quite short (see an example here). If we wanted to get more technical, they are anthropomorphic in nature, as all of the characters are animals (and one goblin) who take on characteristics of humanity, like speech.

Anyway, enough about literary devices and on to the characters.

This is a chipmunk. It does not sing and dance. It does drink massive amounts of coffee.Mr. Potsibald – Mr. Potsibald is the owner of the Jittery Chipmunk, the local coffee house in town where Thom and Tom enjoy a hot cup of chai. True to the stereotype, if chipmunks can be stereotyped that is, and if a chipmunk stereotype portrays chipmunks as energetic and slightly insane, Mr. Potsibald is energetic and slightly insane. This could be because of his raging caffeine addiction, a condition almost certainly aggravated by the fact that he owns a coffee house.

Hezekiah – Hezekiah is Tom’s imaginary friend. Life certainly can be difficult when you are the imaginary friend of a squirrel’s invisible roommate. In spite of this, Hezekiah seems reasonably well adjusted, or at least as well-adjusted as Tom imagines him to be. Anyway, it would probably be better if you didn’t get attached to Hezekiah, so I won’t give many reasons to love him.

Just out of curiosity…

Flash Fiction | Thom & Tom: Weight for Me

I am taking a week off from book reviews. I hope that’s okay. I haven’t had much time to read lately. Instead, I’m doing something new.

Yesterday, I introduced a couple more characters from my Thom & Tom flash fiction series and I mentioned that I’d share a story. Well, here I am making good on that promise.

Thom is a squirrel. Thom is invisible. That's kind of their thing.

Here’s some proof that I’m not an artist.

Before I post it though, I feel the need to explain the format a bit. My original vision for the series was to be along the lines of an Edward Gorey book, with a picture above each line of text, though each line of my text would have footnotes (like Terry Pratchett does, though he does not do them for every line) and the footnotes themselves would have footnotes.

I’m a terrible artist, so you’ll just have to imagine that there are pictures here. If you are an artist with a knack for anthropomorphic forest animals and you have nothing better to do with your time, give me a jingle and we could make some sweet money together.

Okay then, here we go.

The Misadventures of Thom and Tom: Weight for Me

By Josh Mosey

There once lived a squirrel named Thom.*
*The h is silent, but not invisible.

Thom lived in a tree house with his roommate, Tom.*
*Tom is not silent, but is invisible.

One morning, during his morning ritual*, Thom saw something frightening on his bathroom scale.**
*Thom’s morning ritual consists of: hitting the snooze button twice before turning off his alarm clock, using the lavatory, going back to bed, realizing that he shouldn’t have gone back to bed, taking a shower, weighing himself, eating some breakfast, throwing something at Tom, having a cup of chai, and getting on with his day.***
**It isn’t very nice to be frightened by anything that soon after you’ve woken up.  It’s just not a good way to start the day.
***Getting dressed is not part of the ritual because squirrels don’t wear clothes.  That would be silly.

It was his weight.*
*About 2 lbs. more than normal.**
**Which is drastically overweight for a 1 lb. squirrel.

The first question Thom asked was, “Who do I blame?”*
*An important first question.

Thom immediately dismissed the possibility that he was somehow at fault.*
*Who starts by blaming themselves?**
**Not Thom.

Thom’s next target was the media.*
*Not so much because the media portrays “big” as “beautiful,” but because Thom watches a lot of television.**
**And when Thom watches television, he eats.

But was it just the media’s fault?*
*Thom (and everyone else too) likes to spread the blame around.

Now that he thought of it, the grocery store was having a lot of sales recently.*
*Sneaky grocery store.

But that doesn’t even take into consideration Thom’s friends.*
*Tom is especially bad, with his “let’s see how much food Thom can fit in his mouth” game.**
**Tom likes to play this while Thom is sleeping.***
***Thom doesn’t like to play while Thom is sleeping.

And then a thought occurred to Thom.*
*Two thoughts actually, but only one was relevant to this story.**
**The other thought was, “I wonder how much I would have to pay a stranger to walk around yelling, ‘Free the Colors!’ all day long.  That would be funny.”

Thom thought, “Why not blame the food itself?”*
*Go to the source.

Just then, Tom stumbled* out of his room…**
*Stumbling is just one of Tom’s many talents.
**Tom usually stumbles out about five minutes after being hit with whatever Thom threw at him.***
***See sentence break 3 for more details about Thom’s morning ritual.

And solved the issue with only a few words.*
*A roommate’s abilities are sometimes uncanny.

Tom said, “It’s winter.  I hate winter.”* **
*During the winter, squirrels store up fat reserves so they can survive the season when they cannot find as much food.
**I hate winter too.

The End*
*Of this story.**
**Not the world.***
***I hope.

So, there you go. A real Thom & Tom story. Merry Christmas.

Meet the Cast Tuesday | Pumpernickel and Fork

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I write flash fiction. These stories revolve around a pair of roommates named Thom (a squirrel) and Tom (invisible), but each episode introduces a new character. This week, I’ve decided to introduce a couple of my favorite characters in the Thom & Tom series.

Pumpernickel – True to the roots of his name, Pumpernickel is a flatulent Goblin. Seriously, look up pumpernickel in the dictionary and see if I’m lying. I’ll save you the trouble. I’m not. Anyway, Pumpernickel was adopted by wealthy hedgehogs, and now he’s sitting high on the… hedgehog. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. But I’ll spare you the pain of making anymore bad puns, because that’s all I’ll say about Pumpernickel.

Fork – Fork is a kleptomaniac mouse who only takes items too large to actually get away with stealing. This form of self-defeat would normally take its toll on lesser beings, but maybe that’s what makes Fork so special. Or maybe it’s a weird birthmark or something.

Stay tuned because I’ve been debating on actually posting one of the stories. My hesitation is driven by the fact that publishers don’t like publishing something that everyone has already read for free. Although, publishers do like publishing things that have a built-in fan base, so maybe I’ll just post a story or two and you can all become ravenous fans, writing to the publishers of your choice and making them want to publish me. Just an idea.

Anyway, I think that I’ve talked myself into posting something, so check back tomorrow.

Meet the Cast Tuesday | Thom and Tom

Thom and Tom are the titular characters of my flash fiction series.

I first came up with the idea for their characters on a slow night at the bookstore, six or so years ago. At the time, Thom was an anthropomorphic monkey. The first story started like this:

There once lived a monkey whose name was Thom.*

*The h is silent, but not invisible.

I had been reading a lot of Terry Pratchett books at the time, and I really liked his use of footnoting back story and explanations. I continued on from there.

Thom lived in a tree house with his roommate, Tom.*

*Tom is not silent, but is invisible.

In order to be a successful pairing, roommates should be quite different. I know this has proven true in my own experiences. So, I flipped the footnote, which gave me the idea for a whole story. Thom is my straight man, and Tom is my crazy, invisible character.

Somewhere along the line, Thom became a squirrel. I think it was around the time that the Curious George movie came out and everything had been monkey-related. I didn’t want Thom to be typecast before he got his chance to shine, but I still liked the tree house. What other animal could anthropomorphically enjoy living in a tree house? That’s right, a squirrel.

What is Tom then? He’s invisible. So is he a ghost? No. Is he imaginary? No.

And now you know the main characters of my flash fiction stories. Each one starts with the same two lines.*

*and footnotes.

Next week, we’ll meet the main character of the novel that I’m currently working on.