June 1, 2010


For the last year I have been planning various posts about some frogs in the ditches in front of my office.  The biggest, fattest alpha frog (and frog progenitor, I assume) was named Whiskey by my oldest son. I have no idea where the name came from since we don't drink in our household and if we did it certainly wouldn't be whiskey. Maybe a nice tequila shooter or a fancy umbrella drink.

So, I have been toying with various posts at the back of my mind like, "I Love Whiskey" (because it's such a provocative title) and in the winter when the frogs were hibernating it would be "I Miss Whiskey".

Unfortunately I never got a chance to do either of those posts because the other day I found Whiskey floating bloated and dead in the ditch. And I haven't told my son, either.

All this is further complicated by the fact that Whiskey is now in our freezer (triple bagged) and I haven't told my husband, either, and I'm afraid pretty soon that he will ask me what's in that bag... or worse, open it to see for himself.

I don't know how I get myself into these things. Well, I do -- it's because I just can't mind my own damn business.

It all started about two years ago when I walked to my car and looked into the ditch to see it filled with bright red fluid. It looked like someone's throat had been cut and the blood was pooling right there in front of me. Freaking out, I called my mom to come out and look. More worldly wise than me, she realized immediately that it was transmission fluid from the repair shop just a few doors down from us -- slightly less sinister than a dead body in the ditch upstream.

I had to leave to pick up my youngest at daycare, but the report back from Mom informed me that a hazmat team had been called, the ditch had been cleaned up and the transmission shop promised never to have an accident like that again.

Every day I check the ditch when I leave the office to see if there's anything horrible down there. It happens that the ditch feeds a nearby creek which then flows into a nearby lake which flows through my bathroom tap and I brush my teeth with it. There's actually something that happens between the lake and my teeth, but I don't know what that is and don't really want to. I think it has something to do with removing the dirt and fish poop which could give me an intenstinal disorder and replacing those with chemicals that will give me cancer.

That summer a bright green frog appeared with gigantic bulbous eyes. He was strangely out of character in a place that is mostly inhabited by small brown toads and I was certain he was some kind of mutant life form fueled by transmission fluid and whatever other chemicals were flowing through that ditch.

Julius was madly in love with that frog and visited him whenever he could, gave him the name Whiskey and I checked on him on all the days that Julius couldn't be there to do it himself.

Pretty soon another googly-eyed frog appeared and it looked like they would be starting a green mutant frog family. Winter came and we missed them and couldn't wait for them to return in the spring. We hoped they would, but weren't sure.  And then in April they came again with more just like them.

Periodically we'd fish trash and styrofoam and other litter out of the dish. The frogs would hide in a panic. Sometimes the water had a sheen to it and I'd worry again, but eventually we relaxed since the frogs not only seemed to be surviving, but even thriving. In the ditch downstream were crawdads and we'd fish them out with bacon on a string, look at them for a while and then put them back in again.

We were nature farmers. We were cool.

I went from cool nature farmer to Erin Brockovich in about five minutes after finding Whiskey floating on the way to a meeting. I ran back into the office yelling that Whiskey was dead and how we must immediately get water samples because I was sure he was killed by toxic waste. My husband rolled his eyes and said, "We don't have time for things like this. Why don't you do some work instead?" He's very aware of how little it takes to send me off on a world-saving crusade that has pretty much no benefit to anyone including the world I'm supposedly saving.

I was not to be deterred, but for the sake of love and marriage I took my crusading underground. From the secrets of cell phones in cars and in bathrooms, on walks to mailboxes and between aisles 6 and 7 in Wal-Mart I called the Office of Emergency Management, a friend in the Department of Environmental Quality, the municipal water office, the Game and Fish Commission. I learned how they would grind up my dead frog in a blender to test him for toxins. I had someone else tell me that they really would also like to take a live frog and test it too. I asked if that involved killing the live frog. The answer didn't please me and I vowed to not let anymore amphibious carnage happen.

My next task was to get Whiskey out of the ditch. This involved putting an inside-out gallon zip-loc baggie onto my hand, grabbing the floating frog and then turning the bag right side out and the frog would end up inside the bag which I could then seal.

There were several problems with this scenario. One was simply that I'm short and I couldn't figure out a way to get the frog without falling into the steep-sided ditch full of tainted water. The second, and more critical, was that every time I thought of grabbing that bloated frog with my hand I felt like I was going to vomit.

On such a stealth mission I couldn't call my husband or he'd know about my world-saving antics. The next best thing was to call in a favor to my brother who wasn't afraid of anything at all and didn't even mind gross stuff. I mean, this was a sibling who once got a tick out of my belly button with a pair of tweezers. This is a guy you want on your side when grossness is coming down the pike.

Unfortunately, I couldn't reach him. His wife answered the phone. This is how much of a sport she is...  They've been married all of two months and she dropped what she was doing and raced down in her little white economy car to slide into the ditch and retrieve my dead frog. This is true love and compassion for your family.  That's probably about the limit she will go to, though. She was looking a little green as she drove off to do her shopping.

And so now in my freezer at work is a frog that, no lie, is about a foot long and weighs at least a pound. And I'm hoping the wildlife officer hurries over to my office ASAP before my husband gets curious about that yellow Dollar General bag in the freezer.  If he opens it, I hope he doesn't think its in there for frog legs.


  1. Please post when you find out what killed poor whiskey...

  2. Yeah, let us know what's going on. I hope your husband doesn't think it's for frog legs, considering the frog has toxins. Yuckkkkkk.

  3. Also, this is important for you to find out. This is the water in your neighborhood! I hope everything gets figured out.

  4. Erin Brockovich, indeed. This story has all the makings of a major Hollywood hit. I'm just not sure of the genre, yet.

  5. LOL! I love the "water filtering" explanation.

    "Alas, poor whiskey. He was a good friend. Now, let's hope he makes good stew."

    He was fortunate to have you as a guardian.


  6. Your story is funny, sad, and scary, all mixed into one. Sorry about old Whiskey - he sounded like a good old frog. Shame on that local auto repair shop if they are polluting the waters. I hope they get fined up to the wazoo! And funny - YOU are hilarious, and a tree hugger to boot! You'd better distract hubby from opening the yellow bag!

  7. I am such a city girl. I get transfixed still by the bunnies, deers in my neighborhood. Heck even a pretty bird can make me stand still.

    I love the story, I just wonder...how are u gonna tell your son about poor Whiskey Erin?

  8. Yikes! That is one monstrous frog!

  9. I'm with you, Laywer Mom - I think Wendy is lucky Whiskey never car-jacked her while he was alive!

  10. "removing the dirt and fish poop which could give me an intestinal disorder and replacing those with chemicals that will give me cancer"....oh my LOL I hope they pick Whiskey up soon...bless his lil frog legs, er, um, I mean heart :)

  11. Several thoughts on this one...

    1. I LOVE frog legs, but since I married a Navajo, I'm not allowed to eat them.

    2. I once had dead kittens in a shopping bag in the freezer, until it could cool off enough that evening for me to dig a grave. My roommate found them before I could dig the hole. She threw a wall-eyed hissy fit.

    3. I have a little puddle I stop and visit every time I go in and out of the farm. There are anywhere between 2 and 5 frogs there most days. And there are a baby toad and a big daddy toad who live under our steps.

    4. I can see a family resemblance in your antics, cousin!

  12. Never very sure about frogs in any context. But you make them sound truly fascinating. If slightly icky.

  13. I re-read this part over and over, cause one can't help but wonder about which is the better option? "I think it has something to do with removing the dirt and fish poop which could give me an intenstinal disorder and replacing those with chemicals that will give me cancer." ... Keep us up-to-date on the results!

  14. Oops, my husband read my blog. :o

  15. You have such a kind heart.. I wish more people were like you!
    Crystal Lynn

  16. We need to take better care of our frogs...They are very cool...I'll be interested in what is discovered if anything...


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