Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Little Rain Must Fall in Houdahenianvilleland

The Fall we have down here is first and foremost a blessed relief from the new Summer, the one we seem to have been issued straight from Austin, Texas, where it used to reside. Folks told me down in Austin, ten years ago, "good thing you came to visit now, early April. This is the last of it. Don't come back till November." I thought they were kidding, but I believed them.

Here it's finally gotten time to have a bit of a wood fire in the stove. I spent a lot of weekends last winter dropping trees, sawing and splitting and stacking. I've got the best wood setup for a coming winter I've ever had, living in these Piedmont woods since 1979. I don't need to do any wood at all this winter. And of course that's what I will be doing anyway, because there's always the next winter. Anyways, this past week there finally came a cool rainy afternoon when it would feel good to have a fire, and Libby put one a'goin' in the stove before I got home from work. I could smell the hint of it driving in down the driveway.

Now the three boys have been using the stove as a perch and jumping point for months, since they moved in with us last April. For most of the summer I'd had a little writing desk of my mother's sitting near the stove, and they liked to sit on that desk, and got on it either by a straight spring from the floor, or a double hop from floor to stove to desk. (In the process they'd covered the desk with black footprints from the stove polish.) My daughter took the desk to her house last week. I'd figured that would help in the transition, since the point of jumping on the stove was mostly to get on the desk. But one of the boys had another use of the stove.

'Mokey, the grey one, formerly known in his kittenhood as "Bruiser," but now the smallest of the three brothers, the worrier, the one who learns where danger is first, who keeps an eye out, who keeps a bit of distance, who tends to get brushed away from his food dish because he eats with all those principles in mind whereas his two brothers and most particularly Puzzle, the biggest, believes that what am etable should be et, pronto, just in case. 'Mokey therefore had learned during the summer that if he lept from the floor to the little bed on the table by the couch that he really liked to sleep in in the evening while we watched the teevee, sometimes he'd instead of curling up in softness pull the bed right off the table onto the floor, on top of him. 'Mokey learned forthwith that if he jumped onto the stove first, then he'd be able to launch himself like a nice long arching jump shot swish straight into the middle of that favorite bed, and it wouldn't move a bit, and he'd then just curl up, cozy and comfy, for a few winks.

So then, you can imagine I'm afraid. It was something neither Libby nor I had foreseen entirely. The stove seemed as it was. The bed seemed as it was. This is all theory and presumption, because neither of us saw the actual event. What we saw, later, was that 'Mokey was favoring his front paws. He'd burned them, and the kind of burn one gets when one touches something hot that one doesn't already know is hot. I was back at work the next day, and Libby looked up this problem on the google, because of course we are not the only people to have cats and a wood stove. Right away, or anyways after a time, she found the solution we might have thought up ourselves but didn't. Put a cinderblock on the top of the stove. Actually, since I'm a stone mason I'm thinking of putting a piece of flat stone on the top of the stove, with some spacers under it for air flow. Who knows, we may end up having the boys sleeping on top of the stove on this stone when winter actually comes. We'll see. Project for today, set up the stone top.

'Mokey's pretty much ok now, by the way. We have been giving him a round of antibiotics just in case, since kitties do use their paws for some activities which might cause infections in open wounds. He's also taken a bit of painkiller. Both the meds are about done. He's on his feed. He's not much the worse for wear that I can tell, although perhaps his first-born sense of responsibility and caution has been reinforced, which is exactly how things go in the human world as well you know. Worry and you will find the objects of worry around every turn. Or, conversely, and as someone said about my late departed bandmate Tommy Thompson, "he's lived on luck his whole life, and now he's shit out of luck." Which didn't particularly worry Tommy I don't think, because he'd come down with Alzsheimer's and his daughter was keeping an eye on him, she being the first born worrier in that family.

Meanwhile, Momma still appears on the kitchen stoop most mornings asking for food. Also, her ex, the big big yellow Tom who's still wild and free, slinks around now and then looking for handouts, and will get her food if we don't intervene. So we put out a bit of dry food for him to be distracted by. Yesterday the routine was entirely engaged. First I feed the boys so's they don't rush the door after Momma's food when I open it to give it to her. Turning around, there she is, looking in, big yellow eyes. I fix her a nice bowl of food, put it out there. Kitties are still chomping away across the kitchen, 'Mokey up on the table so he has a bit of peace to eat in the more refined style, inspecting the smell of each bit for signs of, something. Momma's bowl is out, she's eating. But, I remember the Tom, so I fix a platter of dry food for him, go back out and put it down further out towards the yard. Momma of course runs away under the house, as she's still afraid of people, if not as afraid as Tom, or as she used to be. I go back in, just barely keeping the two black boys, who have of course finished their plates up, from sneaking past me to the new food they know I've put out there. I watch. Momma comes back out from under the house. She goes directly to the far plate of dry bits and digs in, ignoring her nice bowl of juicy wet food mixed with dry.


It's time for me to go to work. I can do no more, but put it out of my mind, the whole complexity of these critters. I was of course a first born worrier myself.


In the "real world," of course other things continue to happen. Charlie Pierce noted one of them. He is exactly, 100% correct:

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