The downstairs phone rings. It's three am. I squint to make out the red LED numbers on the bedside alarm clock. Dawn goes downstairs, hits the replay button on the answering machine and listens to the message. A new hire calls in to report that she can't make it in for her 6:30 am shift. She's fiftyish. Her husband collapses on the bathroom floor. It's diagnosed as an aneurysm. Dawn listen while the woman speaks to the 911 dispatcher. Later when Dawn gets home from work, she says the husband isn't expected to live.
The morning drill is repeated, only we start earlier. It's at 5:15 am. The Pooch meows once and jumps on the bed. Circling around me, he licks my hand all the while purring loudly. I walk downstairs while the cat grabs a quick bite of dry cat food. Mandy is still sleeping. When I open the garage door, she stumbles out of bed wagging her tail. I open the gate to the front field. The Pooch trots to soft newly turned earth in front of the corn patch. The two of them play tag on the lawn under the rotting silver maple. The cat is the instigator, running swiftly past Mandy. The dog gives chase. If Mandy gets too friendly, the cat bats the dog's nose.
Both animals come inside when Dawn comes downstairs after her shower. Mandy sits at Dawn's feet wagging furiously while the Pooch sits on Dawn's lap. The cat meows that he wants to get down. He walks to the back door and I let him outside. Mandy chases dish towels on the floor dragging them under the table. We can short brine pickles and 18 pints of three bean salad well into the evening. Water is spilled frequently and I drop small white terry cloth towels to soak up the water. After two and a half hours of running, chasing, yipping and nipping at my heels, Mandy curls up on the rug in front of the deck door. She lets out a soft moan each time she changes position. The cat walks by the kitchen window. "What's up Doc?" I say to him. He comes around to the deck door and I let him inside. He touches noses with Mandy and turns around to go back outside reassured that's she's OK.
11 hours ago