Returning late in the evening from a supply run to Lacrosse, I park the truck in the garage. $153 at Menards for drywall and birch plywood at $49 a sheet. Yes, oh sheet! $15 for an air filter for Fred, the riding mower-or is it Ted? I don't remember. I get the names mixed up. Hobby Lobby is closed on Sundays. I drop my wife off at Shopko and I park behind Sears in the mall. $63 for air filters for the Sears hepa filter air purification system. $23 at Michael's Crafts and supplies. The scent of cinnamon in Michaels makes me gag. I wonder if the heavy scent is intentional to spur customer sales. $54 in the liquor department of Woodman's. Bev-or is it Betty-my wife's names-I don't know I get them mixed up. She says she spent under $100 for groceries-a new record low. The price of gas has fallen to $1.89 a gallon. We decide to forgo dinner at Fiesta Mexicana. The savings will pay for the gas used in driving the truck to Lacrosse. Months ago, I kept track of mileage and consumption. The cost for the 120 mile round trip was $28.
Getting firewood for the wood furnace in the basement, Pucci sneaks outside. He makes a fake end run and drives straight through the middle of the line. The last I'd seen him, he was taking a pee in the litter box in the basement. He's heading for the front field. "No," I say. " No," this time louder. Finally, my most decisive "NO". He stops dead in his tracks. I carry him back to the house. The little shit doesn't know how close he got to spending a cold night outdoors. No warm body to nuzzle against. No midnight snack. No chirping bird play toy at 1 am. Later I understand he wanted to get outside to take a crap. Oh, yeah, I remember now. Pucci thinks he's a dog.
The fire in the furnace is burning at half way before chimney fire on the magnetic dial attached to the pipe entering the brick chimney. I pick the Pooch up and carry him outside. I explain to him, " See, it's pitch dark. There's no one out here, only possums and raccoons. You'll be bored," I say. Part of me says it's ridiculous to be talking to a cat. You've lost it, Bert. Gone over the top. I cut some fresh, raw pork loin for Pucci-his favorite. As he's finishing the scraps in the bowl, I mention to him, "You always leave one piece behind." He looks at me and reaches into the bowl with his right paw. He tries to hook the last piece with a claw. The chunk of pork falls off back into the bowl. "I think the cat understands English." I tell Betty. I don't feel stupid anymore.
El Gatto walks across me several times and settles next to my face on the pillow. I roll over and ignore him. At 12:30 I wake up with a sneezing fit. Four, six times-blow my nose. It won't stop. I pinch my nose shut. That doesn't work. I hold my finger under my nose. That doesn't work. The Pooch follows me downstairs. I give him a fresh bowl of water and turn on the bathroom light. I look for the sleep-ease tablets in the medicine drawer. It's a good thing we don't have small children. That drawer is a deathtrap. OTC medication without boxes, tubes of toothpaste, floss, tweezers, stretch bandages, cough drops, razors, combs, and brushes are strewn across the bottom. I peel the edge from a sleep-ease and take half a dose. For the rest of the night I'm oblivious to Bev, or is it Betty turning on the light to hunt down a Japanese beetle, Pucci playing in the kraft shopping bag downstairs, his subtle kitty moans when he rolls over in his sleep. In the morning I drink coffee laced with chocolate and steamed milk. It helps a little. I am thick in the head.
I'm too lazy to start a fire. The thermostat is set at 60. I turn it up to 69. The propane furnace works quickly and I back off the heat setting to 65. During the night it snowed. Wet, heavy, clinging snow. Pucci won't touch the snow. He walks on the deck along the side of the house which is protected by an overhang. Small animal tracks lead from Jonathon Pine's daughter, Gertrude, to the bird feeder. The live trap sits empty on the deck. Tom swings lazily in the pine tree. Dead calm. I remember Betty saying that Newton Ulm doesn't have eyebrows. I check the picture.
Betty is correct. Newton sports a bushy full white beard. No eyebrows. The lack of eyebrows can be attributed to his recent purchase of a pig farm. The smell of one hundred pigs in a confined shelter can burn the lining of one's nose. Sense of smell-gone. Two hundred pigs in a sty-one's eyes tear and dry up. Three hundred piggies in a barn-the concentrated ammonia smell from the manure will burn off eyebrow hair. More than that many hogs-well, the neighbors will gather in a mob, light torches and hunt you down. They'll petition the DNR, the County board, the All Mighty himself(or herself) and shut you down.
Newton Ulm circa 1994 with eyebrows
My daughter's husband dreams of owning a pig farm.
(The last time I checked with her, she doesn't have time to read my blog. I can write (without fear of a phone call).
Her husband is "deathly afraid of snakes". He hates to split wood and doesn't do dishes when they go camping. On a trip home from the city NPR's This American Life" features a story about Rufous, or is it Rex-I don't remember. He's a 400 pound pig. The narrator is a chef. He tells how about the taste of pork in a special recipe. I'll leave off the salient, gory details save for this: Pork from an uncastrated hog is fit only for making pepperoni. The testosterone taste is masked by the pepper. The narrator tells of the anguish of dealing with a pet hog destined for the table. Others laugh(including myself) at the terminal dumbness of naming a hog one will turn into pork chops. I learn the hard way. My ex-wife and I raised Flopsy, Mopsy, Peter and Cottontail on a farm near Sheboygan. Oh yeah, I forgot about Fred, my favorite. Fred had a scar above one eye and broken cartilage in his ear. One ear up and one ear down is my image of Fred. He'd come when you'd call. Fred ended up as Sulse . That's the Polish name for the head cheese, my step father made. I'll include photos of my son-in-laws eyebrows when he buys the pig farm.
Note about typos
It was a tough decision to delete typos. For example when Pucci dropped the pork into his bowl, my alter ego used chink instead of chunk. I rather enjoy the sound "chink" when pork hits the bowl. Drinking coffee "laces" sounded exotic. Almost like drinking coffee at an outdoor market in Nigeria.(Actually) "Little Haiti" according to the producers of Burn Notice a TV series we watched on disc the other night. Is it a typo or an intentional image? I won't tell.
Finally, welcome Bulldog and Crab I hope you took the time to get this far in a too long narrative. By the bye. 4 pieces of beef jerky at the Village Market sells for $4.95. Your two gallon bags of venison jerky- a conservative estimate 20X VM's price or $100. You may want to dole that stuff out sparingly during a card game. Better yet-use the jerky for chips instead of plastic discs. Here's the image.
Bulldog holds the cards close to his face. There's a mountain of jerky in the center of the table. Bret Maverick sits across the table with a dead pan face. Bulldog lays his cards on the table. A straight flush. Bret turns the table over while pulling the Colt from his waistband. "You dirty, no good cheating,lying carp," Bret spits(literally) at Bulldog. Bulldog calmly looks Bret in the face, holds up his right hand in a gesture of peace and equanimity. "No see here, Mr. Card Shark," he says. "I not here to make friends, " Bulldog says with a fake Mexican accent. Bret slips on peanut shells and sawdust on the saloon floor. The Colt discharges. Bulldog grabs the jerky and heads for the door. The bullet ricochets off the mirror behind the bar. It lodges in a piece of jerky in Bulldog's hand. The lead shot is smashed flat. The jerky (or is it singular?) jerk is unharmed. I'm only kidding.