Guest Blogger: Introducing Abbe Skones

400px-A_possumToday, I’m very happy to welcome a guest blogger: Abbe Skones.

Abbe is a former (in the past) ESL teacher in Los Angeles and has worked as a Spanish-language translator. Unlike Jeff, Warren, and me, Abbe is a native of (was born in) California.

Do you remember Warren’s post earlier this year called “The Animals are Coming to Town!” about finding wildlife or wild animals in the city? Here are two short anecdotes (short and funny or interesting stories) about her – and her neighbor’s – experience with animals in their own backyard and even their own home!

Please join me in welcoming Abbe to the ESL Podcast Blog, and I hope you enjoy her amusing (funny and enjoyable) stories as much as I do.

~ Lucy

I was born and grew up in Los Angeles. In the mid-1950s, at about age 10, I lived with my parents and a Cocker Spaniel dog in a small house with a large backyard with grass. We had one tenant (someone who lives on your property who is not a part of your family, usually paying rent), who lived in the backyard—a gopher.

A gopher is a small brown animal with warm blood similar to a squirrel but larger. It digs tunnels or passages underground, where it lives and from where it emerges (comes out) aboveground to eat plants. The entrance to a tunnel, which is simply a hole in the ground, is marked by (can be seen or identified by) a mound (round bump, like a small hill) of earth or dirt.

Our Cocker Spaniel spent hours racing from mound to mound with high hopes of catching a gopher for dinner. Cocker Spaniels are classified as (considered; said to be) sporting dogs because they usually help hunters (people who kill animals for food or as a type of sport) and participate in other activities in the field, and so our dog was following a family tradition.

My dad had his own reasons for hunting down the gophers: If he didn’t, the gophers would have eaten all the plants in our yard!

Our dog raced from hole to hole hoping to surprise a gopher as he peered (looked carefully) through the entrance mound. At the same time, my dad, also running from hole to hole, tried to flush (have large amounts of water pass through) the gopher’s tunnels with the garden hose (a long rubber or flexible plastic tube through which water runs).

Who was the winner in this ongoing track-and-field (set of athletic or sports event, including running, jumping, and other activities in an open area) event? I don’t remember seeing any gopher exiting his hole in a panic (alarmed; frightened) to avoid the teeth of the family dog or the flood from the hose. Eventually, I guess it grew tired of its persistent (never stopping) landlords (owners of a property) and dug new tunnels to greener pastures (more attractive places).


Fast-forward (move forward quickly) about 30 years: I was still living in Los Angeles, now in another small house with a large backyard with tall trees and a big lawn (open area with grass). This time, the main character of the story was a possum (see photo).

In the apartment next door, a woman lived alone with her cat. One day, she went out of her house briefly to retrieve something (get something; bring something back) and left the front door open. When she returned, she stepped into her living room to find a possum stretched out (with arms and legs apart, in a relaxed position) relaxing on the sofa in front of her TV. My neighbor tried to drive (force out) the possum from her home with no success, and the cat wasn’t much help!

In the end, the city’s Department of Animal Control – the government department that captures and takes away unwanted animals – came to the rescue (helped) and saved my neighbor and her cat from the intruder (unwanted visitor in one’s home).


I hope that you find these anecdotes entertaining. At the same time, I write them here to help us think about our relationship with and responsibility to the animals into whose home we have moved, uninvited.

~ Abbe

Photo Credit: A possum.JPG from Wikipedia

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11 Responses to Guest Blogger: Introducing Abbe Skones

  1. Dan says:

    Nice to meet you Abbe.

    My name is Daniele, but you can call me Dan.

    I am an Italian guy writing from ..Italy.

    Loved both stories. And that Possum looks cute.

    I do not understand that woman’s reaction. I would be happy to share my place with Mr Possum.

    In my front yard there is a hedgehog that makes the entrance to his house just like the gopher. I did not know that was called a “mound”

    Funny thing, first time I moved here, I kept looking at this mound under a hedge and I was thinking -some idiot did not know where to deposit that dirt and put it under there-

    Later on, when I discovered that that was the entrance to the Hedgehog place, I felt like an idiot.

    Anyway, now we are friends and I lay down apples on the ground so it can find and eat it. I would like to lay down the cat’s food but then I am not sure who ate that.

    If it does not eat the apples, no problem! around here there is a flock of crows that eat everything. And if they do not do that, it’s the ants.

    Animals are great, I love them. That’s why I dropped almost to zero my consumption of meat.

    To tell you the truth though, I sometimes have doubts whether or not feed wild animals. I think that if it is a small animal it’s not that wrong, but when it’s like a Bear it is better not do that.

    Thank you for starting out with those stories. We have a huge responsibility; we have to keep developing as a society, but at the same time try not to destroy the environment around us.

    Not easy thing to do. I am confident we will do it. Let’s think positive.

    Thank you Abbe

  2. Parviz says:

    Welcome Abbe,
    Thank you for letting us something from you, and showing respect for animals.
    This is my attitude, too. I always try to be more than a good neighbor to cats.
    But sometime too much cats in a small area can be stressing. In our district, there are very many cats.
    I am not saying, I wish to kill them, but, you know, how they sometime have disastrous effects. and you have no other choice than getting rid of them, anyway.
    That doesn’t render us bad, does it?

    Thank you,

  3. emiliano says:

    Un autentico placer saludarte Abbe, desde Madrid, con un calor espantoso te doy mi mas cordial bienvenida al maravilloso Blog
    creado por Lucy, Jeff y posteriormente reforzado por otro gran colega vuestro/nuestro querido profesor Warren.
    Mi nombre Emiliano, prefiero hacer mi propia introducción y desearte lo mejor para esta tu nueva andadura con nosotros.
    Cordialmente y en mi propio idioma solo quiero volver a darte un bravo por el primer comentario tuyo en este nuestro muy querido
    ESL Blog.
    Now in English, thank you very much, it is good to have a new teacher here that gives her time to us, thanks Lucy by your nice
    comment about our new profesor Abbe.

    It is funny what you said about the gopher (new Word for me thank you) under your father´s backyard as mine had one or more
    many years ago.
    The story was similar but whe hadn´t a nice dog to run after its holes, but we had five children that were all day running to see
    the little gopher.
    They were my three daughters and two nephews who were all the weekends visiting with us my parent house that was in Guadarrama
    Guadarrama mountains are close to Madrid city, about 50/60 km. only, and all round the mountains there are several little villages.
    Citizens of Madrid use to have a house/flat/chalet in these villages to spend the weekends along the year but also to be living
    in summer time.

    My parents had a big one where my sister/husband and two children use to go the same as Cuca (my wife) my three daughters and
    me. Along severl years, till the children were teenagers or a young boy and girls we were living in the chalet every weekend, all
    together and we spend a very nice time living the three families in the house.

    There was also a nice garden but my parents liked to have some vegetables also like tomatoes, green beans, and some other vegetables
    grown in the garden. Along some years we had also one or two tenants under the property that made the same about the vegetables, just
    eat them. My poof father was mad about this and he tried to catch them helped by the children but in vain.
    We all laughed a lot, but not my father who has to work on the earth to get grown the vegetables.

    Wellcome again to this great Blog, having been in it since the begining my English have improved a lot beside having nice incredible
    good hours writing and having also long argues with other blogers all round the world.

    My best dear Abbe (by the way, may you tell me what Abbe means in Spanish, please) have nice days writing here like I have had along several years.


  4. sara says:

    welcome & thanks for being here Dear Abbe,hope to see more from you soon.

  5. Peter says:

    Hi Dear Abbé ,
    I m the kook around here on blog , nice to meet you 🙂
    Good thinking on your part,Lucy
    It is nice to see new faces around the block with fresh ideas and different style of writing. I m behind the idea. U have my support.:))
    The approach familiarizes us with a larger number of writing formats which ultimately facilitates the adoption of unique writing styles peculiar to Every one of us

    You know ,my understanding is writing styles are unique to each individual. I mean , writing styles vary From one individual to another. In
    a sense , it is like finger prints. Every each one of us out there has a different finger print signiture , pattern if you will. The same is with writing style.
    If one looks hard enough he /she can track down rather pintpoint the structural differences exist in people’s way of writing.

    The more we get exposed the better we are in developing our own unique writing structure.

    Dear Abbé ,
    I see that you made a big entrance here by writing us , rather narrating us two interesting , upbeat short stories that follow the same dialog ,story line if you will yet happening in two different time frames. Well , I must say the two stories are equally sweet: attractive enough to prompt rereading :))
    Anyway, on a more serious note ,the animal invasion of properties is not something of the news anymore.
    In fact , it has been around long enough that the news rather fluff about their handiwork :)) in related to inflicted damage to the properties provokes more of a long yawn than stirs some exciting response

    The real problem here is
    that the rodent infestation never ends at some cute squirrels or ferrets :))or chipmunks jumping frolic ally and cheerfully from one branch to another , chasing after one another on ,or burrow into your back yard lawn . i mean make a burrow or hole as you put it.
    Sometime your house becomes the home for more vicious kinds of rodents such as skunk , rockoon or rats that mostly cozy up in the crawl spaces in and around your house. Let me tell u , having them around the premises is not sth that settles a smile on your face , but sth that makes your skin crawl.

    I have had all different kinds of the wild vicious rodents around my premises and the worst comes when they reproduce more of their kinds at your place. Man , you don’t wanna know. They make your life a living hell. And , once you finally overcome your fear to confront them in order to flush them out , the battle of your life time starts
    i m telling you , they don’t give up without a fight!!!

    Pete, more known as ” the kook of eslpod :)))

  6. Linsay says:

    Abbe,thanks for sharing your stories. I love that image especially that the dog raced from hole to hole and meanwhile your father also runned from hole to hole, tried to flush the gopher’s tunnels with the garden hose. Yes , that scene looks so beautiful.

  7. Lassana says:

    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks Lucy and Abbe for this funny history that had been a real entertainment.

    I think certain animals are very bright ! Such as that whose Warren speaks about.

    The expansion of humans areas has leads to this situation with certain kind of animals which came from forest until our towns.

    See you soon !

  8. Betty says:

    Hello Dear Lucy and Abbe and everyone!

    Thank you Jeff and Lucy for introducing Abbe to us. It is very kind of you to bring in a very experienced writer into this blog.

    I enjoyed reading the anecdotes and every one of our friends comments above.

    I think Peter’s comments about the rodents are very close to my experience of unwanted”animals” in the house we lived when I was little.

    Just the thought of them gives me goosebump. I will not be able to turn the horrible experience into an attractive story. However, I am very happy to read Abbe’s stories which will give me some tips about story writing.

    Look forward to reading more and more stories from you guys everyday.

    Best Regards

    Betty 🙂

  9. Tania says:

    Hi! I like stories with animals as main characters.
    So, welcome dear Abbe, in our large ESL family!

  10. Tania says:

    Hi! Looking up in my dictionary the meaning of “gopher”, I found out the phrase
    “Gopher State” as the State of Minnesota.
    Is it true, dear Jeff?
    We do not have “gopher” in our fauna, but something like that.

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