Tuesday, October 19, 2010


For a moment this morning, I experience a deja vu. The Pooch stands on the sidewalk opposite the kitchen window, looking up at me making chilaques for my breakfast. I'm standing at the kitchen sink and motion to him with a sweeping right arm toward the deck door. He considers the movement and turns around for the steps and the deck door. He scoots in quickly. Outside the temperature is a brisk 30 degrees. I'm a bit surprised that the cat follows arm movements which the dog, in a show of smarts, has learned quickly. I mention a blog by an animal behaviorist at UW-Madison to Johann. Patricia McConnell writes an excerpt about dogs, hand signals and the inability of chimps and another animal which I can't recall, to follow basic hand signals. But the cat? It's why we call him the Pooch.

Anyway, back to deja vu. The dog's on the couch, paw draped over a small cushion watching me. The cat winds in and out my legs waiting for some raw ground pork. Earlier, as we head down the stairs for the first time out in the morning he has a coughing spell. That means Hairball. The package of hairball control treats we purchase for the Pooch are doled out according to the directions on the package, however, I hesitate to give him repeated amounts of 10 pieces because he'll barf up the protein rich morsels. The formula on the back of the package indicates that a 400mg treat contains 31 mg of petrolatum. Usually the hairball control formula treats are all the boy needs to keep from getting hairball plugged as opposed to our last kitty who needed the full dose of hairball med from the tube Dawn would get from a vet.

I reason that a little Amish butter on his ground pork will help speed a hairball on it's exit out the back door. With coffee perking in our Krups machine and both animals waiting patiently for food, I think back to the time when the kids were little and single parent Dad would be fixin' breakfast for the urchins. Twenty years later, it feels much the same.

Fine fall weather has me bustling to get work completed before the howling winds of winter lash at the place. Cleaning leaves from the gutters, I make a mental note to check flashing over the rear entryway. Dawn decides to clean the second floor windows without me. When I remind her that the job requires two people to get the outsides of the inside windows sparkling clean, she points out a large hole in the sill of the double hung window. This explains an occasional puddle of water on the hardwood floor in the living room near the rear addition. I call in the expert. Johann points out gaps in the flashing between the roof of the rear addition and the original sidewall of the house. This will require a trip to Irish Ridge and the Amish window dealer.

Checking my invoice from the previous window we purchased, I note that the brick molding for the outside trim of the new window is included in the price. Since I took the car up to Whispering Pines Sales, Titus and I struggle to get the 33X47 inch window in the back seat because the latch of the trunk will damage the new window even by lashing it securely with bungees. In the commotion which includes yet another ploy by the young Amish man for me to trade Mandy for one of his pug puppies, we forget the brick mold.

Johann and I wander through the pole barn looking for the right size windows to replace the old double hung. There's a couple with a Volkswagen camper struggling to get a door with an ugly leaded glass insert window in the van. In a little while a local Amish elder walks in with two women wearing the cowl headgear who cast their eyes downward when I glance at them. An older fellow in an old fedora ala Indiana Jones comes in looking lost. We find two thermopane windows at a good price, pick up some special silicone that Johann says is half the price of the same stuff in the hardware store in town, load our forgotten brick mold, add more mahogany brick mold for the new windows, some pine laminate trim molding for the inside of the entryway windows and a half gallon of lavender scented laundry detergent. Yes, laundry detergent Dawn. The label proclaims the stuff is especially formulated without certain noxious chemicals found in regular detergents, making it an eco-friendly product. The septic system in our front yard and eventually the ground water will appreciate the extra expense, but I'm wary of it's cleaning power. Today will be the test.

Johan and I drive off, not before Harvey comes out with my laundry detergent in hand that I spaced out. Mandy waits patiently in the cab of the truck. I can't let her out because I have no idea if the pug mother with the drooping huge teats is friendly. On the way back through the largest Amish settlement in the state, we slow several times for horse drawn wagons and black buggies as well as herds of well dressed kids on their way to school. Johann drapes his arm around Mandy who's the model of decorum, "Gee you're one nice dog, " he says.

The row cover over lettuce, spinach, arugula, kale and radishes has protected my late fall crop of greens from continual hard frosts. The radishes are sweet and the butter-crunch lettuce makes a tasty salami sandwich for my carpenter and I. Perhaps today as he works on the upstairs windows, I'll make a lunch salad extraordinaire.

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