Two fifteen am. Mandy comes in the bedroom grunting like a chimp. It means, "I have to go out". I take advantage of the moment to get a drink of water while she's outside. The routine is the same most nights. I'll leave the breezeway door open and she'll return in a few minutes. I'll tell her, "Come in", switch on a nightlight in the kitchen so I don't trip over her and stumble up the stairs.
The cat never moved from his fetal position on the thermal blanket on the bed. Mandy jumps on the futon in the west bedroom to resume chasing birds in her sleep. I optimistically snuggle under a comforter and flannel sheets to drift off. My nose starts to run. I've been more allergic of late, which I attribute to dust from the wood stove. It's been running ( the wood stove) 24/7 because of recent -10 temperatures.
On my bulletin board in the office I mounted a cut out Sunday color comic from Pearls Before Swine. It's a classic.
Multi-colored M&M look-alike figures stand on the chest of a sleeping rat/mouse. A row of pastel sharp edged balloons over the anxieteers contain one word ping. The animal becomes wide awake. Each of the anxieteers hovers over the worried looking rat uttering an anxiety in a cartoon balloon. Fear, worry and paranoia are the general themes. Stuff that one sweeps under the carpet in daylight hours. The rat sighs. He can't fall back asleep. The M&M's do high fives, their job complete. One sympathetic M&M walks back to offer consolation. With bulging eyes, he says, "It'll be all right." A mean looking M&M comes back and swats the errrant anxieteer. The panel shows a poof where the meanie hits the consoler and in large type-smack- in the sharp edge balloon at the top.
It was 2:15 when Mandy wanted to go out. Forty five minutes later I'm still awake.
"You're going to have to get rid of the cat or suffer worse allergies. Remember to get the Amish patriarch to make a bottom rail for the new railing on the steps. You'd better be careful sanding those steps or you'll have dust all over the house. Your allergies will be worse. What'll I do with the dog if we want to travel? You don't have anything to do now that you finished the church pew bench. You're getting old. I wish I were closer to the kids. My son thinks we're strange because we don't watch football on TV. We need to get a high frequency antenna for TV reception. How am I going to pay for the new garage door? The garden is too much work. If you make a chicken coop you'll be even more tied down. Maybe you should save money and buy a metal railing for the steps.
I put on some sweats, walk over to Mandy and give her a reassuring hug. Downstairs I switch on the light over the sink. As I make some white tea, Mandy comes down the steps to check on me. The cat follows. He jumps on the island and gives me a nose buss. It's our way of smooching. I give him a treat. Mandy jumps off the couch. I give her a dog treat. I thaw a bagel and Mandy brings a goofy toy, offering to play. I chuckle and pat her on the head. Seeing I'm busy with tea and a bagel, she walks over to the cat who's lying on his side by the couch ready to spring into mischief action. She stands over the cat with the toy. "Hey, come on. Let's play." The cat races off with Mandy in hot pursuit. I shush the two. "It's the middle of the night you two goofs."
After two treats for the kids and a cup of tea with honey for me, the dog comes in the office and slumps on her side on the carpet. The cat jumps on the desk next to the computer. "It's going to be all right Dad." their eyes tell me.
Now two hours later, both have abandoned me and gone back to comfortable sleeping quarters. I should make a list of things that need attention tomorrow and go back to bed.