OLIVE: Her Life and Times with Norma


My offspring say I should have a dog. I say, “No”. Two sons, two dogs, three cats for 18 years, plugged up my nose. After a shameful dependence on Afrin nose spray, I was told I was breathing danders, assuming they were little white bugs until my anatomy coloring book explained epithelial skin cells.

I have a bevy of wonderful dog friends in the neighborhood who wiggle and smile at me from almost a block away. I wiggle and smile back and when we finally get close, we touch and love for approximately 60 seconds–the thrill lasts until the next dog comes along.

I have expressed a bit of lonesomeness lately. A new friend, Devon, artist/poet/Snail Expert, convinced me a baby snail would be practical, affordable, modestly demanding and good company. Three weeks ago, baby Olive was delivered in a 12 oz, Mt. Olive (Since 1926), Kosher Baby Pickles jar with 22, carefully placed nail holes in the lid.

Devon created a lovely terrarium with tiny rocks, organic soil, weathered sticks, moss and lichen varieties and a crispy, curled up Laurel leaf–the kind the kids in my neighborhood tried to smoke in grade school.

Three weeks ago, I could hold Olive on my pinkie fingernail. Now, she hardly fits on my thumb. Today, she appeared to be somewhat depressed–sleeping most of the time in her curled Laurel leaf. I woke her up with nudges and a squirt of water for an exploratory trek through a forest of potted Cyclamen and a healthy, gastric elimination.

A lovely, one gallon Mayonnaise jar awaits holes in its lid to house Olive’s bigger body. I asked Devon if Olive needs a mate. She says Olive is likely to have babies without a mate. The web says, “Most snails are considered to be hermaphrodites and have both male and female reproductive organs.”…hmmm, well.

Another reason I don’t have a dog is, I don’t want to get too involved–you know, stay free of responsibility so I can write a lot and ignore everything else. Snails don’t wiggle or smile either. I’m not sure Olive cares if I’m around or not. Little does she know I worry and care if she eats her lettuce, or not.

I need a pet who worries about me and wants to be sure I eat my lettuce. Boyfriends don’t do that anymore either–especially when they get old. I just worry about him eating his lettuce.

Maybe I’m too old for a dog, a snail or a boyfriend?


Olive Update

In April, I decided to give up caring for Olive, my pet snail–in the spirit of altruism, of course, detecting her depression in that over-sized mayonnaise jar. She kept trying to bury her growing self in only an inch of soil–no place to hide–the soil organic, of course.

I sincerely believed she could take care of herself and considered Olive a lovely gift to my Fellowship’s memorial garden–a whole new environment, a place to bury herself, including fellow snails and other sympathetic creatures. I would be encouraging and supporting a make-over; an opportunity to re-invent her life.

In May, I requested a sort-of-Bar Mitzvah-type celebration with organizational assistance from for the Sunday School children, believing it was a wonderful idea! However, quite unexpectedly, Olive and I were denied access by the experts including the Reverend minister, Olive’s surrogate mother, the Portland Audubon Society and resting my final hope on a trip to Pendleton seeking permission from my Walla Walla Indian friend who gave me the final, “No”. They all believe Olive is dangerous to the State of Oregon. More than one expert suggested, heaven forbid, she could eaten–that’s dangerous to Olive!

Now, I would like to hear from the experts on the larger question of migration and immigration. How is a snail dangerous to the earth, no matter where she comes from? If Olive, who is likely to come from France, is dangerous to Oregon, what then, are humans who come to Oregon from other places–like Paris? Plastic and bombs are dangerous to the earth, Olive is organically made.

Truth is, in April, I may have wanted to get rid of Olive. In fact, in biological ignorance, I was starving her of the protein she needed to expand her Self. With fresh Cuddle Bone and egg shells, Olive perked up, began remodeling her shell as I watch the awesome process. Her job, as a snail, is to expand her space–creating it out of her own juices. She still buries herself in a scant half inch of soil, but continues to grow beyond the size of the mayonnaise jar and eats her lettuce profusely–organic, of course.

It’s July tomorrow, what do I do now?


Olive and Her Friends

Two neighborhood Snails came out to play, or something, on the walkway this morning, making silvery slime in partnership. Olive wasn’t interested. She slid over them and the pink plum seed headed for the English Ivy patch to make another plum tree.

It wasn’t the meet-up I had expected. Perhaps she has learned to be a loaner. Wonder if isolation is her thing?

She just headed back to her Mayonnaise jar as if it were where she wanted to be. I wonder if I shouldn’t worry about her so much–its just something I like to do.


4 thoughts on “OLIVE: Her Life and Times with Norma

  1. Dear Norma,
    Olive is a lucky girl-boy to have found such a lovely friend. thank you for share his-her adoption story with us. I am looking forward to hearing more.
    Your friend,
    Katie Hettinger


  2. This is delightful. I have never been so interested in a snail before. I don’t like thinking she is dangerous and appreciate your question about the danger of a Parisian locating to Oregon. So many questions in life! The important thing for me is the amount of care you are investing in her/it. That care just has to make a difference to the snail and I imagine it increasing the positive energy in your vicinity.


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