Sometimes My Pets Are Jerks


In the above photo we are using enhanced video technology to detect which of these four cats is Evil Incarnate. No surprise that it’s Sansa.

This morning kicked off with Pippin demanding to be let out before seven am and then by Merry barfing in the bed a few minutes later. The cats saw these two dogs behaving like jerks and said, “you think that’s something. Here, hold my beer.”

There were stampedes, leaps onto and off of furniture/dining room table/kitchen counters, brawls, and more stampedes. I swear it was a couple hours before the little bastards all settled down. I know they have some cabin fever but this was full blown feline hysteria. It was impressive but the shock waves were ridiculous.

Now we’re moving into afternoon and the cats are mostly lethargic. Except for Sansa who just opened the closet doors in the man cave just to see what she could fuck with. And Joffrey who keeps stomping on my goddamn keyboard. Some days it never ends.

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All of the Time in the World


I’m getting into my winter workflow and it’s about damn time. I’ve got a work project that’s just stretching out into infinity that needs some focus and best of all, I seem to be getting a writing groove going as well. It’s a good time to be snowed in.

There are couple things that are facilitating that. First, my wife sleeps in. She has issues with disturbing dreams due to a medication she’s on. It makes her feel like she’s never getting a decent night’s sleep and she often doesn’t achieve a deep sleep until early morning. That keeps her in bed until almost noon and thus, out of my hair. Of course that leaves me to deal with all of the issues of feeding, watering, and letting out/in all the pets. It has taken a while but we now have an effective winter routine for that. When Carjo is up and her sciatica isn’t driving her insane, she’s in her office until suppertime, locked in on her endless compilation/condensation of recipes.

Speaking of locked in, my ADHD seems to have moved into a winter hyper-focus mode. I can be as spacey and as scattered as a stoned teenager, especially in the warmer months. But right now I’m getting enough sleep and seem to be in a groove when I either write or work. This will only last until late April/early May. So until that wave hits, I’m in the mode to crank out the work.

Every season seems to need a different routine but I am pretty good at the winter one. I spent a good part of this weekend doing jobs around the house. I felt particularly efficient mowing these down, from cleaning up the last of the Christmas stuff to shoveling out new paths for the dogs to vacuuming. Which leaves the workweek open for getting work done, getting writing done, and just staying focused.

Tomorrow we’re going to get hit with more snow and wind, followed by yet another spell in the deep freeze. Folks here will complain about being snow bound. Not me. For the next few months, snow bound is a good thing.

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Sun Dogs and Homesteaders


The above is what we call “sun dogs”. The phrase goes back to at least the sixteenth century and it’s used to describe a halo that appears 20 degrees off the sun. We tend to see them on clear days when the temperature is quite cold. I saw my pair while driving home yesterday, a couple hours before sundown. The temperature was just a bit below zero.

We’re under a wind chill warning through today as an arctic system moves through the state. Yesterday morning it was about -35 wind chill and this morning it’s warmed up to -7 actual temp/-25 wind chill. Forecasts indicate we won’t get about zero until Sunday. This is nothing new for this area and like a lot of locals, I’ve seen worse. Still, it sucks to work outside.

Yesterday I had to shovel some snow that had fallen Sunday night/Monday morning and then had blown back on us when the winds picked up. Then I took down the wreath we had hanging by the front door, detached our Christmas lawn flamingo, and unplugged all the outdoor lights. To get those done I had to wade through snow about thigh deep while the wind whipped around me. But hell, my grandmother on my dad’s side had her own homestead in a sod house, putting up with this kind of weather to have land in her own name. Grandma didn’t complain.

It was somewhat rare for women to homestead but not unheard of. A couple decades ago, while Grandma was alive, she was interviewed by Professor H. Elaine Lindgren from North Dakota State University. Professor Lindgren interviewed dozens of women from across the state who had done the same and compiled their stories in a book called Land in Her Own Name. There’s some truly remarkable tales of survival in here, empowering stories of women who took an unusual and risky step towards independence in the days when they didn’t even have the right to vote.

I always take note of the weather conditions here, especially when it’s severe. My wife gets irritated at my noting each drop in temperature or recitation of wind chill calculations. But I don’t complain too much. We have a house that stays warm, tight doors and windows, and space heaters if rooms like my man cave need warming up. But above all I try to remember, someone in my family had it far worse. And lived to tell the story.

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Caturday – Let it Snow


The wind is blowing and the snow is coming down. Actual temp tonight might be fifteen below. The Truckster’s battery needed a charge this morning. And it’s going to be cold all week, with temperatures not fit for the proverbial man or beast. Joffrey knows this.

We got this post last Christmas and the use of it has been sporadic. But since late fall Joffrey has staked out the top of this post as his own. He spends hours there, sleeping and plotting. I believe the young cat is plotting to claw that camera and its annoying flash out of my hands but that’s understandable. Then he went back to sleep, to dream of warmer days and mayhem. Sweet bloody mayhem.

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2016 – The Year of the Tight Sphincter


This wasn’t the best year. Too many deaths of famous people I loved and admired, health concerns on the home front, a dismal financial year, that fucking election, and my own failings at a number of things. It’s definitely one of those years I’m going to look back on with more regret than relish.

But as always Carjo and I are committed to try to make 2017 a bit better. Focus is always a problem for both of us, partially due to our age but also just the way we’re wired. But in a way, there’s less in the way these days. I guess that’s one thing for a simple rural lifestyle. We don’t have much but we have each others backs. And so we move on.

I’ve got some resolutions. None I want to blog about because they’re only the same things I’m always working on. Be a better husband, pet owner, friend, guitar player, writer, and so on and so on. Oh, and oppose Trump every fucking way I can. I can’t forget that one.

But I would really like to waste less time. I am hurtling towards Social Security age and every second seems a little more precious. I don’t like my time wasted and I don’t like myself when I discover I’ve been frittering away a chunk of time doing nothing. I gotta work on that.

New Year’s day is really just an abstract number. There is no tangible difference between the last days of 2016 and the first days of 2017. It’s just the method we used to differentiate the scale of time. But there is nothing like the feeling of turning over a new leaf, starting a with a fresh slate, or even the INTENTION of making a new start. It’s what we use to cast off what we don’t like about our lives and embrace what we want to do. Despite evidence that an overwhelming amount of NY resolutions fail, we do it again and again. And sometimes, against all odds, something sticks. We get something done, we take some pounds off, we finish that project, or just become a better person. Sometimes just the act of trying and failing makes us a better person.

So I believe in resolutions. That’s saying something because after this year with all its attendant frustrations and losses, it is hard to believe. But we have to believe. We have to make that step out the door, no matter what the odds. So don’t give up. Get out there. Make art. Exercise. Read a book. Love someone. Love a pet. Defy Trump. It’s all good. And 2017 might, just might, be a better year.

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Digging Out, Part II

Our neighbor to the east showed up last night in a Bobcat with a blower attachment. He managed to get his driveway and then ours cleaned out. But damn that was a lot of snow. I gave him my last two bottles of Bell’s Christmas Ale and hauled out his garbage this morning.

I had him drive the Bobcat from the driveway towards the deck so the dogs would have a wide place to do their bidness. The I took the snow off the steps and completed the chain so they can go out the sliding glass door and maneuver through the maze to the back yard. And last but not least I cleaned the snow from around the gas meter because not dying of natural causes is the new sexy.

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Holiday Whites and Blues

Let’s just say it was one helluva weekend.

All week the weather prognosticators have been predicting a blizzard of biblical proportions. Usually what we get is either a milder storm or it passes us by. So we thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad and it would be a drama-free Christmas weekend. We were so wrong.

Christmas Eve, after opening cat toys and dog treats, we were going to bed. My wife had not been feeling well that morning and suddenly got sick after going to bed. As in I now had bedding to wash. I swapped out the bedding while she staggered into the bathroom and then I tucked her into a newly made bed.

Christmas day the snow fall was light but steady. My wife had baked two pies, sugar cookies, a HUGE 5 quart potato dish, and a double recipe of escalloped corn for dinner at my cousin’s. We also brought the two dogs. They usually behave quite well when visiting and we figured it was going to be more of the same. Pippin walked into the house and immediately did a territorial pissing. And after I cleaned it up he did another. Then Merry puked on the carpet. Then she threw up three times in rapid succession, all onto my wife’s winter coat. So I rushed them home. Hmm. Snow was still falling.

Dinner was just after four. Someone had looked out the window and remarked that “wow, it’s still coming down”. Someone else speculated that we were going to lose yet another big name celebrity this year and I agreed. An hour later my cousin’s son looks at his phone, “Holy shit, George Michael died!” As the kids say these days, I can’t even.

At six pm I decided to drive home and let out the dogs. I was wearing slippers over my socks because I just had to take them off going back and forth between houses. Except now I stepped out into snow halfway up my shins. Still I got home and let the dogs out. They seemed to be OK. I switched to my old snowmobile boots and went back to the party.

We played a marathon game of Wise and Otherwise as the winds picked up, stuffing ourselves on sweets, Pink Squirrels, and pie. Oh it was glorious. At ten pm I went out to fire up the Family Truckster and somehow the snow had drifted up around the front end of the vehicle and on the hood was a drift that was level with its roof. Picture that. A two and a half foot snow drift on the hood. I pushed a good share of it off, and determined we could back out the driveway (if I gunned the engine). We slammed our way to the street and then drove home, through drifts and very very low visibility. I hit our own driveway at an unsafe speed and forced the Truckster down the long driveway into the garage. My wife waded through a three foot drift to the back door while I waded across the backyard to the deck. I knew I had to dig out a path again for the dogs. The wind was a gentle twenty-five mph. Hah!

I managed to carve out something for the dogs. The snow was up to mid-thigh. The f-word might have been fucking used. Carjo opened the sliding door from the inside and we threw the dogs out. I looked around and it appeared that neither had any accidents. Then I heard an outcry from the living room. Merry had vomited on both the love seat and couch. I cleaned it up. Carjo staggered into bed, still not feeling her best. I sat down on the bed in the man cave. There was more vomit on the carpet there. And my hand came up wet from the bed. I sniffed it. Pippin had left a “statement pee” on the bed.

How was your Christmas?



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