Monday, April 27, 2009

The Old Man Is Snoring

After two days and three nights of intermittent rain, thunder and lightning, we cast a watchful eye toward the river. In this picture from March, 2007, the cornfield is a lake. We judge the severity of a possible flood by how quickly it creeps up the road toward our east fence line. There is no outside activity, save for stolen moments when it drizzles or the sun tries to push its way out of a threateningly black cloud cover. The Pooch has safe houses from the rain, yet he comes in on occasion at my urging to be toweled off and catch a bite to eat. He dislikes thunder but will tolerate some water. Time has become a throwback to winter. I hustle to get some dry firewood to light a fire in the wood stove. I walk around my baby cabbage plants, hoping they've not drowned. I stand at the kitchen windows watching the Pooch stalk a small animal near the dogwood bushes. My sinuses are plugged. My head aches.

On Sunday a break in the downpour allows me to check the gutters. Leaves and pine needles have clogged several of the downspouts. To thwart a clog in an elbow, I installed hardware mesh rolled in a cylinder in each of the drains. The clogs cause the gutters to swell with rain water. I learn that being right handed makes me also right legged. My right knee is painful from wearing rubber boots most of Friday in the heat. The heels are different than my running shoes. The joints in my left ankle are out of line. I limp. My knee goes out of whack. Oh gee. Next I'll be calling up the relatives to complain for twenty minutes about lumbago and the rheumatism. Climbing the monster ladder with a painful right knee means I must reverse the way I usually climb up a ladder. I start with my left foot first, taking the weight off my right knee as I push myself up toward the roof line.

The Pooch doesn't get enough outdoor time because his safe houses under an overhang, below the deck and walking very close to the house are sprayed with rain from a north wind. I leave the garage door open and the door to the summer kitchen cracked a bit. He sits on my workbench pretending he's lord over the garage floor, waiting for mice. In the summer kitchen he jumps the four feet to the counter top and sits on top of a red and white cooler looking out the garage window at the propane tank and the backyard. The house and garage are connected with an overhang. At one time I think there was an enclosed breezeway. He sits on a door mat surveying the rain soaked sidewalk. Then he'll reverse the procedure and sit in the garage doorway. At six thirty in the evening, I lure him in with a dinner of raw catfish. He's not happy with confinement. He prowls the first floor and basement before giving up and sleeping on the couch as we watch another movie.

At two am he comes upstairs and stands in the doorway. "Are you getting up?' he meows. The usual tricks are supplemented with gnawing on my arm and playing hide and seek with the mouse under the bed covers. That mouse is my leg. He can bite through a comforter and flannel sheet. "Ouch," I yell and flick him on the leg with my thumb and forefinger. It doesn't take much for him to get my drift. He jumps down. Then, he repeats the process every hour, until six am when I wrestle with him and play a real game of mouse under the blanket.

Early on before I was trained, the Pooch went into the basement if he disturbed me at night. It took weeks for him looking at me with sad eyes before I relented. We signed an agreement. It included a no-lock in the basement provision. The trick is to keep him busy during the day. It's my fault that he took a three hour nap on Sunday afternoon.

You know how the reasoning goes... It's raining outside. He looks so cute lying on his back paws in the air between all the blankets, sheets and pillows that Dawn removes from the linen closet while she reorganizes the mess. Besides, I rationalize, he's been sneezing frequently. I stop at the Vet and ask questions. When is his vet-Dr. Laura going to be in the office? Is there some virus going round this time of year? He's not off his feed. There are no other symptoms. I hesitate to spend the time and money on paranoid parental concern. He's a good boy. He kept me company during a long winter. He's a constant source of amusement and wonder.

By eight this morning he's been in three times. There are no bugs this time of year. It's warm 60 degrees outside so I leave the deck door open for him to come and go. He's bored and so am I. The sky is a uniform dull battleship gray. Inside, I need lights to read or perform small tasks. Let's see, I need eggs. Perhaps I shall visit the Amish.

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