Friday, September 11, 2009


Sniff. Sniff. Usually a two part exercise.

I walk past the closet in the office which is stuffed with winter coats. Out of habit, I leave the door open. The chimney runs through this closet. In winter, the wall gets hot to the touch from the wood stove running continuously. The plaster on the south side of the closet is cracked. My leather coat hangs at a safe distance from the wall so it too doesn't dry out and crack.

It is so humid of late, I can smell the coats in the closet. It rained in the afternoon yesterday. This morning, dew drips from the trees giving the appearance of rain overnight. There's the faint odor of tomatoes permeating the house. Pureed tomatoes are simmering in the twelve quart stainless steel pot on the LP gas stove.

The early morning routine goes without a hitch. The cat comes upstairs, snuggles next to my face and licks my nose. I look at the clock. It's 5:30. Then I roll over. The Pooch retreats to the foot of the bed for safety. He could be crushed if I roll over onto him. At 6:15 he reminds me, again, that it is time to get up.

Mandy is out cold in her doghouse. Usually she stands in the entrance of the dog house waiting for me to slip on rubber, calf-length muck boots. When I step out into the breezeway, she lifts her head. "Oh, it's you, " her eyes tell me. "Come on you lazy lump," I say. "It's time to get up." She falls out of the dog house, stretches and jumps on my knee for a morning hug. I open the gate and she follows me to the driveway.

The Pooch, for safety reasons, goes out the deck door for a head start on the dog. He's already digging in the soft dirt of the old potato garden. When Mandy spots the cat, she makes a beeline for him. Constant threats of annihilation, have made an impression on the dog. She now makes a quick nose connection with the Pooch, smells his butt and walks away. Previous to now, she would have bowled him over as she runs at the cat full speed. One can see the border collie traits as she runs side by side with the cat, nudging him toward a destination. Her puppy inexperience includes nips and jumps on his back.

Back inside I open a can of Country Blend Pate canned cat food. I lay a small dab into a bowl and put it on the floor for Mandy. On a clear glass saucer I give the Pooch the select bits of the canned food including the gravy. I put the plate on a terry cloth rag I used to dry the cat when he came in last evening. He was soaking wet from the rain in the afternoon. The cat looks at the food, sniffs and buries it using the towel to cover most of the plate. The dog looks at the white ceramic bowl with blue trim and walks away in disgust. I'd like to video the scene and send it to the makers of the cat food.

I purchase a Boston Butt pork roast on sale on a trip to town. I pull it out of the frig, slice off a generous hunk and cut it into small pieces. I nuke Mandy's plate for 12 seconds 'cause she likes cooked meat. The Pooch is still into raw meat of any kind. The cat jumps up on the console table by the kitchen window and nibbles at the pork. Mandy gobbles her plate full of nicely warmed raw pork. The drill ends with the Pooch leaving via the deck door for the morning hunt. Mandy stays inside to consume a bowl of raw milk, string cheese, the rest of the cat's breakfast and remnants from my breakfast of waffles and eggs. More and more the line between cat and dog begins to blur. I catch the cat licking the dog in unmentionable areas. Mandy is unusually still. I photograph the dog sleeping in the same favorite snooze position of the cat. Last evening both are side by side eating dry cat food at the west wall of the kitchen. Mandy likes the Plus Care dry cat food. The Pooch prefers the Active Blend. I'm happy that the bag of Plus Care is dwindling. It would have gotten old and stale without Mandy's help.

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