Breathe Some Air That’s Never Been Breathed

We spent some time this weekend sitting out in the pasture. It’s the first time I’ve put my butt on the bare ground since we had to slide down a rocky ledge while geocaching in Connecticut. The number and size of spiders and insects that scurry through the fields here is somewhat disturbing. I’ve seen at least two cat-faced spiders, there are yooge funnel webs leading to deep, scary tunnels in the ground, where Shelob’s cousins live, and just last week I was stung on the finger by something that injected a venom that caused pain to my elbow for, like, at least an hour — it was touch and go there for a while. Fortunately, nights have been chilly, so many of the crawlies are gone.

Levee has been packing on a bit of weight over the last few years. Until the cattle panels go up this spring, she can’t run free for hours on end like she could before. She has play time every evening, but she doesn’t get as much movement during the day as she should, would, and will. The weather was perfect, so while we enjoyed plucking at the grass, the dogs got to run wild, chasing each other, snatching their favorite pink waffle ball whenever the other would drop it. Exercise is good for the soul, they say, and also for that pesky neck flab.

I used that time to practice a bit with my camera, which you can see was quite helpful.

Title From:
Don’t Tell Me
by R.W. Hampton

Life’s No Fun Without a Good Scare


I finally charged my camera battery for the first time since the end of 2015. The last photographs I had taken are of a snow storm on January 4th. I wasn’t sure what all would be on the card, and I didn’t want to see Reyka’s face, so I avoided touching the camera altogether. Luckily, there were only pictures of our Christmas tree, the storm, and some flatbread we had made for dinner.

I seem to have forgotten how to take a good picture. Everything I attempted tonight came out wrong. I’m apologize. I need to start taking more again and perhaps not in the evening when things get grainy.

Wicket is growing fast. Brian built her a little temporary corral using some of our cattle panels, so she has a confined area in which to pee and poop without feeling vulnerable and frightened by the yips and howls of coyotes in the night, and so she doesn’t get carried away chasing leaves across the county. I already notice a huge change in her weight as I lug her outside every morning. Lug her I must, as well, since she’s a chaser and Muggabee’s a runner. They will likely never be buddies. C’est la vie.

She will have a buddy in Levee though, who has become so much more patient with her. There is a lot more playing than growling now, even though instances like the one pictured here are frequent. I’m sure there are some who feel we should intervene, but it’s not our place to determine the pack status between them, and no one is being hurt, despite Wicket’s sharp cries to the contrary whenever Levee decides she’s had enough lip biting. Babies will be babies. KnowwhatI’msayin’?

I can’t believe we’re already into November. I had been counting down the days to Halloween since July, and now suddenly we’re past it all. I didn’t even set Tommy out this year.

Let me find a picture of Tommy for you.

Here he is. See him there? We adopted him from Spirit Halloween in October 2010.

Now that Halloween has come and gone, it feels like Christmas is nearly over. Never mind my idiosyncrasies. This time of the year is my favorite, and I wish it could last as long as the rest of the year. Summers, on the other hand, I wish would pass as quickly as they did when I was in school.

Title From:
This Is Halloween
by Danny Elfman

Sweeter Than Heaven

At my feet, curled in a loose ball, lies a puppy named Wicket. She’s been with us since Sunday. It hasn’t been the easiest transition for Levee, who seems to enjoy her and the company she promises, but is also not fond of having her dangle from her face like a pig wattle. We’re giving her (Levee) space and the freedom to growl and snarl as needed. There have been a few snaps, followed by yips, but no harm has been done. I’m confident they’ll sort things out in a few weeks.

Progress on our home has, of course, stalled. It’s difficult to do much with such a little one running between your feet the moment you stop walking. This weekend I plan to put the second coat of paint on the living room. Then we’ll be able to move everything back in and supply the puppy with an ample amount of chewing material.

Note: I haven’t charged my camera battery since September 2015, so I don’t have any proper pictures of her yet. Enjoy these iPhone photos in the meantime.

Title From:
Drumming Song
by Florence + the Machine

If You Get Lost, You Can Always Be Found

I saw the dark, long-haired cat sitting in the middle of the back pasture. I always think of that particular cat as a female because she has an extremely long tail, which reminds me of Stitch’s, the little kitten who showed up the day after Reyka was put to sleep. His tail would swing up over his back and touch the top of his head when he was excited. I like to think of the dark, long-haired cat as his mom. She was sitting, upright and proper, in the crunchy, sun-bleached grass, staring at the house. It’s unusual to see her sitting anywhere. Normally she’s running, her body low to the ground, her long tail streaming out behind her. When I noticed her, I decided to put a can of wet food and a bowl of dry out on the porch. I knew she’d run as soon as the lock clicked but I didn’t care. If she wasn’t going to eat it, the raccoons would get it later.

I know someone out there, four years from when I post this, is going to want to tell me I shouldn’t feed raccoons. Too bad. I like raccoons and they’re not going to break into anyone’s cabin and eat their faces, so I don’t feel any worse about feeding them than I do feeding the 3,247 cats that come around.

As expected, as soon as I opened the door, she was gone. I didn’t even see a trace of her running around the barn or into the long grass of the neighboring field. Of course, I was distracted. As soon as I opened the door I realized I’d knocked Pickwick out of the way, pushing his angry, fluffed, growling body toward the stairs. Normally he’d spin around and start trying to make his way into the house, rubbing his orange fur against my black pants. This time he stayed, hunched and puffed, eyes locked on Muggabee.

Muggabee was back! It has been more than two months since I last saw him. I can’t describe my feelings upon seeing him now. I almost thought I imagined him there for a moment. For weeks and weeks, I would look out the window every time I passed by. Then, as the probability that he’d never return became more likely, I’d look every other time, then less. I never stopped looking entirely, but I did stop expecting to see him. There were nights I cried, thinking about how sick he looked, wondering if there was something I should have done. I missed him.

I’m so thankful he’s back. Hopefully he’ll be returning more often. I don’t know where he’s been but he looked so much better than the last time I saw him, albeit a bit skinnier. His fur was smooth and clean and his eyes were dry. If he doesn’t come back, at least now I know he’s likely with someone else, or at the very least, alive.

Note: The picture at the top is not Muggabee, who you can see here, it’s Stitch. Stitch was named by, and lives with, one our vet’s assistants.

Title From:
Home
by Phillip Phillips

Where’d You Go Love?

This is the longest Muggabee has ever stayed away. I honestly don’t know how long it’s been. I estimated two weeks the last time I wrote, but I’m not certain. It definitely wasn’t more recent.

He would usually show up around 4-5pm. I’d wait to put any food out until I actually saw him so I knew he was the one eating. The last day I remember seeing him, he hadn’t come by during his normal hours. I figured he’d visit a little later, which he did. Around 7pm, I realized he was outside when I heard hissing and whatever that growling thing is that cats do that sounds like a deep, guttural rumbling, emanating from their souls. He’s the only one of the cats to growl at the others, so I knew he was there, and so was someone else.

When I opened the door, I saw the long grey hair of the cat with the bald spot on his side. He was off the porch but still close enough to enrage Muggabee, who was sitting by his bowl, hissing and channeling demons. The other cat is terrified of me, so he quickly ran away when he realized I wasn’t going to be staying inside. Muggabee continued to hiss, albeit a little less frequently. Normally, when I scooped the wet food from the tin, he would lose a bit of his apprehension. That time he didn’t. Instead, he sat in the same place, still rumbling, still hissing, showing no interest in the food. I talked to him a bit, reassured him that everything was okay, and the other cat was gone. As I talked to him, I noticed he looked even more disheveled than usual; his fur was a little thin and unkempt, his eyes were a little watery. Sometimes he looked a bit rough, so I didn’t think too much of it at the time. As much as I wanted to be friends with Muggabee, I knew my presence was only making him uncomfortable, so I gathered everything and went inside, deciding to let him calm down and eat in peace.

I watched from the window as he nervously started taking small bites, constantly looking in the direction where the bald spot cat had gone. When it looked like he was relaxing a little, I walked away. I plopped the cat food jar on the kitchen table, threw away the tin, and washed my hands. By the time I got back to the window, Muggabee was gone. He had left a little wet food, which was not like him.

As upset as he had been by the other cat, I figured perhaps he was too nervous to eat and would show up again the following day, but he’s not been back.

I’m writing this now because I’m starting to lose hope that I’ll ever again look outside and see his warm grey fur rippling in the breeze as he sleeps on our steps, waiting for his food. I’m also writing this now because the moment I say something like this, more often than not, the opposite tends to happens. It seems to work for everything but the lottery.

Title From:
Last Night
by Miner