His Dreams of Tomorrow Surrounded by Fences

It’s 3:30pm, and I’m only just now sitting down with my iced coffee, which I started fixing* around 8:30am. The morning was spent at my favorite store, Tractor Supply. I can walk in that store, and before I get fifteen feet inside, I’ve already found seventeen different items to buy, which I’ll try to balance while holding Levee’s leash. All stores that allow dogs are my favorite stores, but Tractor Supply is my best favorite. Ye ken?

The air conditioner for our office room, the room where I spend the most time, pooped out almost three weeks ago. Apparently there is an air conditioner season, and we are no longer in it, so finding a portable replacement unit will have to wait. It’s a beautiful day today, but for the last few weeks it’s been in the high 90s. High 90s is unbearable when the sun hits the back of the house. I don’t know if it plans to get back into the 90s, but it’s always best to be prepared. So say the Scouts, and so say I. So, while at Tractor Supply, we bought a giant wind tunnel maker and set it in the hallway where it can whip every bit of dog hair onto my desk. I don’t care about the dog hair as long as I can get up from my chair without producing a sticky thhhllloooop sound as the leather peels from my legs. I’m lying. I care about the dog hair. Random wisps of dog hair have me dramatically blowing them away like Gimli with the Oathbreaker mist. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. You know I know you know.

We also bought an obscene amount of dog toys. It’s important to make sure she has a variety. There are toys that squeak when the squeakers are punctured, toys that float, toys that produce animal sounds when stretched, and toys that come with a magical bottle cap inside that turns all water bottles into squeakers! Does she need all these toys? Yes. Does she recognize and appreciate the differences? No. Does she carry them around, regardless of their attributes, as though it is her job to keep each beloved toy above the lava that is the ground? No. She only carries the snake. The rest are simply things she’ll grab as she makes her way around the house, looking for the snake.

Aaand, we bought cattle panels, or feedlot panels. On April 8th, 2015, I wrote about how we began repairing the barbed wire fence that was partially flattened. We did attempt to put up welded wire fencing, but we didn’t have the posts to pull it properly, so we rolled our fencing back up, and there it has stood for over a year. We started talking about our options the other day, and cattle panels came up. They aren’t cheap, but they are sturdy. We grabbed a ton of the panels, which each weigh approximately a lot, but that’s okay, because I wasn’t lifting them, along with a gate. We trucked them home in the nice rent-able utility trailer and dumped everything out by The Shed. Now, because we’re not procrastinators, we’ll get to that tomorrow. Maybe. It’s supposed to storm, and something like that could potentially set us back another year or two at least.

*Fixing, in this context, is Brian’s southern contribution to my vocabulary, ya’ll.

Title From:
The Last Cowboy Song
by Ed Bruce

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

Papaya, Papaya, Paya

This is an iPhone photo, taken very late at night to ensure maximum graininess.

I am sincerely nervous about showing the inside of our refrigerator. I really have no idea why, it’s not like there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just…private? I’m telling you, I possess some weirdness.

Moving on…

I am not a big snacker. I have never felt a desire to eat much between meals. However, I’m trying to remember to snack more, as a method of helping to keep my portion sizes down. The problem is, I’m lazy. I love strawberries, but if I’m feeling a little hungry after lunch, the idea of preparing them will often keep me from grabbing any. Preparing them means washing them, popping the leaves off, and all that strenuous effort that would require I take a nap afterward. So, I decided to order some of these adorable ceramic berry baskets, to organize our refrigerator a bit more, and make grabbing a handful of fruit a little easier.

Those perfectly over-exposed orbs in the white baskets are grapes, by the way. Also in the baskets are cherries, strawberries, and grape tomatoes. It’s been really nice to open the door, grab a handful of something healthy, and have it already washed and ready to eat. We even bought a set of grapefruit spoons, because peeling grapefruits makes me sticky and the only thing I hate more than being sticky is being stickier. It’s all about making the fruits more convenient, which is why we’ve shoved the dried fruits waaaaay in the back, where you can reach in and knock all the berries and grapes out of their baskets, as you drag the bulky bags over top. Can I interrupt myself to say how annoying I find the position of that one apricot? Speaking of apricots, I do not like them. I love them dried, but we’ve had two fresh varieties now, and both taste like nothing at all.

Even though we eat homemade meals six out of every seven days of the week, and almost all our stuff is organic, non-GMO, and fairly healthy, I feel like I could do better. I’m leaning toward going one week mostly raw vegetarian. I can’t do vegan, or completely raw, because I like milk. Could you tell? I don’t want to do it as a cleanse or a lifestyle change, I just think it might be interesting to see the effects a raw diet would have on my body.

We’ll see. The last time we tried to eliminate meat from our diet, it lasted one long, disappointing, grumpy day. I’m not sure no meat or heat is going to go much better.

Note: I did not turn the brand name side away on purpose and now that I see they’re almost all like that, I’m going to have to go rearrange things. More weirdness.

Title From:
The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane*
by Dean Martin

* I do not know if the ladies actually say “papaya,” but that’s what I hear when I listen to the song.

It’s Only Just a Bitter Form of Rain

A few weeks ago I ordered two herbal apothecary books. Of course, you can’t concoct anything without herbals, so I ordered some of those too. Now I’m completely out of room to store anything.

I mentioned before that our kitchen table is an old pianoforte, converted into a desk/table. One of these days I’ll take a picture. (Update: I found a terrible photo from the day we brought it home. You’ve probably already seen it, since it’s at the top of the post, unless you like to close your eyes and scroll down immediately when opening a webpage, which I do too, don’t feel weird.) Anyway, the innards of the pianoforte were removed and the front was sealed up, making one big open storage area, perfect for cookbooks, dish rags, extra mason jars, and tea. I’m a little bit addicted to tea. It’s the only thing I regularly drink other than milk, water, seltzer water, and mineral water. Why didn’t I just leave it at water? It’s all water.

Today I counted at least twenty boxes and tins. I say “at least,” as though twenty is too many for me to count properly, because it is. Actually, Phyllis and her seventy pound pot are housed on the back half of the table, so only the front half opens. It’s possible there are a couple boxes that have made it to the dark side. In addition to the twenty or so boxes in the table, the herbs I purchased for my first attempt at herbal treatments are for, can you guess it? That’s right! Unless you said something other than tea…then that’s not right. Specifically, it’s a tea to treat the obnoxious heartburn that tomatoes and onions seem to now bring on. It’s a blend of chamomile flowers, marshmallow root, licorice root, slippery elm bark, and ginger root. If you’re interested, it works, but more as a preventative.

I need to figure out where to put new things coming in, because next up is a tea for headaches, and that’s a whole new set of herbals.

Title From:
The Beer Song Medley
by Darby O’Gill

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