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that's the way cats work
december 1, 2011
Q: What's been going on in your life since we last spoke?
A: Well, we finally cleared out all the limbs sawed down from our backyard trees during our major storm last month. We hired a tree guy who happened to be in the neighborhood to haul off everything on the ground. But the thing was, it turned quite a few of the sawed limbs were snared in the springy treetops where the city workers, high up in the blackness of the sky, trying to buzz through each property's problems as quickly as possible, threw the limbs, so it took a while for the winds to shake them down. Crash, crash, crash. So we ended up with a new pile to clear.
I thought it would be a chore. The tree limbs are extraordinarily long, with all kinds of branch clusters on either side, perfect for scratching a Cyclops's back. But because they're fallen and leafless, no weight of life, it turned out I was able to pick them up at one end and carry them with an ant's ease all the way across our backyard.
And at least this finishes our clean-up. As I type this, men are at work next door, replacing our neighbors' roof. That steady rainfall of hammering as they secure the shingles always makes me think of a roomful of elves adding soles to curly-toed boots.
Q: Are your still-standing trees doing okay?
A: They seem to be. If you walk down the main path of our backyard park, there's a long root meandering along the path like a half-buried elephant's trunk. I have no idea which tree it's attached to, but it seems healthy. If anything, the utility company's chain sawing of so many branches has opened up our yard. That's the thing about gardens. As they mature, they become, more and more, shade gardens. But these radical trimmings of the trees have opened up a lot of our backyard to sunlight again, so that buried bulbs and corms that used to be in shade, that haven't bloomed in a decade, may bloom again. We're expecting a colorful Spring.
Q: What else are you happy about?
A: We finally found an online retailer that home delivers non-perishable grocery items. Toilet paper, Kleenex, canned and boxed items, etc. Since Mary and I grocery shop only once a month now, that had been a problem for us. Bulk items like paper towels take up most of the cart, so you don't have room for much else. We'd usually arrive at the check-out counter with our purchases balanced precariously high above the cart, green leaf lettuce and English muffins sliding off the heap as we maneuvered our cart in line. Now, since we order most bulky items through Alice.com, we have far more room in our cart.
Q: How's that working out?
A: Great. Stuff you order through Alice costs more than if you went to a local supermarket, but they provide free shipping, so the cost of the shipping, I'm sure, is figured in that raised price. And you get everything delivered right to your door! In huge, pretty blue boxes! Like cubistic eyeballs piled on your porch. For us, the convenience is worth the extra cost. There's something exciting about getting a big blue box on your doorstep with a half dozen eight-packs of paper towels stuffed inside. And storing all these products on shelves in our home? It's like we're Mormons, ready for the Rapture. Or like King Midas, only instead of bags of gold coins, we have bags of small white Styrofoam bowls for feeding our cats.
We go through a lot of toilet paper.
Q: I don't know what to say.
A: The cats use most of the toilet paper. They get up on their hind legs in our bathrooms so they can reach a roll on its holder, and chew through the roll. Most of this takes place while we're sleeping, exhaling up towards the ceiling. You go to a bathroom the next morning, and you can't use the roll on the holder, because it's been all chewed up, so that it unrolls looking like someone cut out hundreds of paper dolls. Plus Lady likes to pick up a roll in her fangs, then walk through the downstairs rooms yowling at the top of her little lungs. With this fucking insane look in her eyes. We don't know why she does it. Pets are loving, but they're also these small animals with pea-sized brains who occasionally go crazy. Maybe she thinks it's a gift she's giving us, since she usually drops the roll on the carpet of whatever room we're in. Kind of as a mouse substitute, since we don't have any mice. If that's true (and it may be), then that's sweet, but since we paid for the toilet paper, it's kind of like re-gifting. Which it may be. I can totally see our cats re-gifting, rather than getting new gifts for us. That would be completely in character with them. If they ever appeared on a TV courtroom show, like Judge Judy or The People's Court, they'd be the shifty-eyed defendant in an over-sized suit who insisted a loan was actually a gift. That's the way cats work.
Q: Are you still transitioning all your medical care to your town?
A: Yes! We have a dentist now in town, and also a medical doctor for Mary. So we no longer have to take the long drive into Dallas. Both the dentist and the doctor have all the latest equipment, and seem really up to date on techniques. That used to be such a chore, to have to drive all the way into the city once a month for Mary's blood stick, to check her Coumadin levels. Pay two bucks to park in the bowels of a horror movie parking garage, and have to take an elevator to get to the right floor. About three hours, back and forth. Now it takes ten minutes, and we get to park right in front of the office's front glass doors, green trees and blue sky around us, like an optimistic coloring book.
Q: How's your writing going?
A: Really well. I'm so much more relaxed when I'm working on a story. I don't grind my teeth, and people in stores seem so much nicer.
I finished Warfarin, and The Ghost Who Smelled Like Fish, which I've renamed If He Had Wings. And I've just put the finishing touches to another new story, Hoodelay. Next up is a short story examining machismo, no title yet, though I think it will probably come from the eventual text, then another ghost story, this time about generational influences. Plus I have a number of additional story ideas I'm anxious to put on paper.
Q: Let's start a new meme. What do you have on your DVR right now? And be totally honest. Don't leave out anything that might embarrass you.
A: Huh! Let's see. Dexter, The Walking Dead, Homeland, Enlightened, lots of court shows, old episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent from USA Network, Glam Fairy, Top Chef, Kitchen Nightmares, The Next Iron Chef (or whatever it's called), Millionaire Matchmaker, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Atlanta, The Next Great Work of Art (or whatever it's called), Revenge, Grimm, The Amazing Race, Survivor, Project Accessory, Boss, Hell on Wheels, Glee, American Horror Story, Sons of Anarchy, Modern Family, The Office, Chopped, Restaurant: Impossible, Chef Hunt, Diners Drive-ins and Dives, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Cheaters, 48 Hours Mystery, Top Secret Recipe, Sweet Home Alabama, Bang for Your Buck, X Factor, a bunch of mostly horror and noir movies, and probably some other series I can't recall right now.