The Skunk Report

It was Valentine’s Day, ten PM. The blinds were down. Thumping came from beside the house. Squeaking ensued. Definitely an animal noise. I turned. Outside lights detected motion and lit the area.

I pulled the blinds up. The squeaking came from a skunk, our skunk, as we call her. Haven’t formally named her yet but we know her by her tail, which looks like a well-used white toilet brush.

Furious squeaking kept going. She was jumping and darting briskly around. I zipped into the other room to bring my wife to the spectacle. Not much was on television and I’d just finished reading my book.

“What’s she doing?” my wife asked.

“I think she’s fighting with something.”

“I think she has a mouse.”

The skunk jumped back, leaped to one side, and twirled. “I don’t see a mouse. I think she’s fighting with something else.”

Our skunk turned and rushed away. There was no mouse. As we stood to consider what we’ve seen, another skunk darted out from under the house. Bigger than our skunk, I’d seen ‘him’ before. “Look.” I pointed him out. “I think she was fighting him. They sometimes fight.”

My wife was nodding. “Yes. I read that females will reject males and sometimes spray them in a defensive action.”

“So he came a-callin’…”

“And she said, no thank you.” The skunk disappeared. The lights went off. My wife turned away. “I think she doesn’t want him because she’s in love with Boo.” Boo is our big black cat with a single white star on his chest.

I remained doubtful. I began lowering the blind. The light appeared. ‘He’ appeared. He looked up at me.

I nodded down at him. “Tough luck, brother. Can you go somewhere else?”

He scurried off into the night. The light went off. I finished lowering the blind on the theater and began wondering what I was going to watch on the telly.

Live theater is so much better.

Thursday Thoughts

  1. My cousin, Glenn Seidel, passed away, ending his cancer fight. A genuine nice, caring person, his death is one that makes you question life’s mechanics. I wish he’d never suffered cancer; he’d watched his mother and younger sister fall to cancer. It’s good that he’s no longer suffering, though. Watching the suffering, unable to do more than mouth platitudes, is the struggle for me when a friend, relative, or pet is suffering and dying. No, it’s not about me; the survivors always mourn. It’s about what he — what they all — went through before reaching the point of death. Here’s to Glenn.
  2. Weather is on my mind. We’re contemplating a move east. Why? Summer weather here in southern Oregon has become a litany of summer suffering: wildfires, or smoke from wildfires suspend or kill activities and travel. Drought requires water restrictions, which is enforced via capitalism: if you have the money, you can buy the water. Depressing, right? But our winter is comfortable, remarkably snow free and freezing free. Moving east to Ohio or PA would mean plunging into that stuff.
  3. Watching Texas suffer from lack of planning for cold weather brings deep sighs of frustration. Save some pennies, increase profits, but when the shit hits, you’re wickedly unprepared. It’s sadly now the GOP way. Yet that ‘save some pennies, increase profits’ mantra holds fast against critical thinking. It’s always the poorest classes who suffer most, of course.
  4. Since I’m on politics, will the righteous right-wing notice that President Biden, a Democrat, immediately reached out to help states, whether they’re ‘red’ or ‘blue’? Doubtful that they’ll notice; doubtful that they’ll remember. Yes, experiencing a strong cynical streak today.
  5. We worry about the animals along with people, you know? We hope the animals are warm and safe, too. The logical response is, this is life; suffering is inculcated as part of the formula. Death is a natural ending. Still, I hope for the best. Guess I’m an unrepentant optimist.
  6. Writing (knock on wood) continues going well, which continues to scare me. There’s a burst of jubilation as a major chapter is completed. After a pause of reflection, anxiety strikes as I face the ever-present, ever-daunting question, what next? That question always pulls me back into the puzzle that’s called writing a novel.
  7. I’m watching more foreign television shows that are in their native languages. I run in place and watch television to wind down at the day’s conclusion. Usually do two to three miles between 10:30 PM and midnight. Bad dubbing draws cringes and winces, which are disruptions to the entertainment. Don’t need it. Instead, I watch television in German, Icelandic, Norwegian, French, etc., eyes glued to the captions. We like how characters appear in television from other countries. Characters in the U.S. TV land are typically pretty people with pleasant lives and mild challenges to their principles and decisions. Typically, matters are quickly resolved, with little complications. There are exceptions. The characters in stories in other nations are less pretty, less glamorous, and more natural. Yes, they’re more like me. Fortunately, watching foreign television seems to be a growing streaming trend. A great selection is available.
  8. One exception in U.S. television that I continue to admire is “The Wire”. Watching it for the second time, finishing season four, the levels of excellence in production values, acting, character development, plots, and story arcs all still impress me. It’s been several years since I first watched it, yet so many of the people and story-lines remain memorable. It’s a gritty show, but you end up rooting and crying for so many.
  9. Finished reading/read six books last week. I’m mastering the jogging-in-place-while-reading process. Five of the books were fiction, the other was non-fiction. Reading does enhance/intensify my writing process. Hungry for more books now. One is on hold at the library, so I need to head that way, but also research more to add to my list. I’m reading mostly crime and speculative fiction while I’m writing my science fiction/speculative fiction novel.
  10. With running in place augmenting my walking and other exercise, my 28-day average remains over 12, coming in at 12.41 for this cycle, with a best day of 14 on February 7.
  11. It’s raining outside. My cats are in and asleep. One sleeps on my feet as I type, keeping me warm with his weight. Another is in the foyer, curled up on the bench, a paw over his eyes. The third is stretched out on the guest bed like a ginger throw. Their presence and the knowledge that they’re safe and comfortable reassures me against awareness of the world’s pain.
  12. Now, time to go eat lunch. Then it’s back to writing like crazy, at least one more time. Stay safe, please. Cheers

Christmas Cactus

The Christmas cactus is bloomin’ again. Bloomed in November, 2020, and now again in Feb. Love how it adds color to the room.

November, 2020 on the left, today – February 17, 2021 – on the right

Must admit, sunshine in the living room also makes me happy. Good place for reading with a drink or snack.

Sorry about the photo quality. Done with iPad, and I’m not much of a photog. Cheers

The Measurements Dream

It was a weird shopping dream. A bunch of other things had happened where I was going around shopping but then I came to this point. I was helping people shop. Roped into it because I was there and knew what was going on, I was friendly and upbeat about helping others, eager to do it because they were grateful for the assistance. But then I encountered a trio. It seemed like a husband, wife, and older child from what I saw, but that’s a guess. White, all were overweight. I was helping them get three ounces of the product that they wanted. Measuring it out, I handed the white bag to them. “What’s this?” the man asked. “We wanted three ounces,” the woman said while the child hovered sullenly behind them.

I was confused because this was three ounces. I showed them the scale and measurement with the stuff on it. “That’s three ounces. That’s what you asked for.”

The woman smirked. “We want three ounces.”

Her smirk irritated me. “This is three ounces. Look.” I pointed at the scale. The line for help was piling up. “That says three ounces.”

The man and woman peered at it. “Where?” he asked.

I pointed again, moving my finger to emphasize where it said three ounces. “There. That says three ounces. You said you wanted three ounces. This is three ounces.”

The woman smirked. “We. Want. THREE. Ounces.”

WTF? Seriously. Looking back on the dream, it went on with more of the same. My frustration kept rising. With crowd noise growing from impatient people waiting behhind them, I was finally rid of the people only for them to return a few minutes later. Flummoxing me more, they insisted they hadn’t been there yet. “We want three ounces,” the man said. The short woman was holding the white bag I’d given them before. Their listless boy hovered beside her.

I asked, “Do you want three more ounces?” They gazed at me like stupefied cows, so I said, “Because I already gave you three ounces.” I pointed at the white bag in the woman’s hand. She looked at it like she’d never seen it before. “Isn’t that what’s in that bag?”

She said, “We want three ounces.”

I gave up. Just walked away. People called after me but I kept going with the thought, there’s somewhere else that I need to be.

Monday’s Theme Music

Good morning. Welcome to another Monday. Today is February 15, 2021. It’s 39 degrees F outside. An unrelenting sky whispers, “No sun for you.” Today’s sunrise was at 7:07 AM. Sunset is expected at 5:43 PM.

We’re harvesting rain water this week. After collecting it in bowls, we strain and drain into gallon jugs. Rain water is wonderful for rinsing hair after shampooing/conditioning.

Raindrops chilled my skin and dampened my hair while I was out there. Words came along.

Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

After returning to the house, I noodled through those words in search of more, i.e., when, where, who. Then other activities pushed it aside for a while. Remembering the words morning, I searched and was rewarded. These are words to Natasha Bedingfield’s song “Unwritten”. As I went through an, oh, yeah, moment, I read the other lyrics.

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

h/t to Metrolyrics.com

Head-scratching, oh, yeah. Feeling rain on my skin drew the song out from some inner folds. Thought this mellow sound works well for this rain-zone day. Here it is, fresh from 2003. Wear a mask. Stay positive, test negative, and get vaccinated. Cheers

Sleep Easy

I’ve been reading about sleeping (yeah, researching). I’ve always been one to fall asleep quickly and easily, in almost any location. I’ve gone to sleep in waiting rooms, cars and aircraft (military and commercial), and tents during a typhoon. One of those times in the typhoon, my wife was with me. She claimed that the tent was blowing away and I was dead asleep. Coincidentally, after that trip, she declared that roughing it required a hotel room and a chocolate on her pillow. On another occasion when I was a teen, Dad and his wife (yeah, my step Mom) awoke me to take cover in the living room floor because of a tornado. I went in there and went to sleep. According to my step Mother, so did Dad. She couldn’t believe it.

Then I came across the claim that people don’t fall out of bed while sleeping.

News to me. I’ve fallen out of bed twice in my lifetime. Both happened in my early teens, and in my usual bed. I was stone sober, I swear! Didn’t drink nor indulge in drugs then (as if drugs and are regular pals now – we’re not), and wasn’t sick. Just floomp. Out of bed and onto the floor.

I decided to cast a wider research net and leaped to the web. Research revealed that this is a REM Sleep Disorder. Ohhh, okay. They went on to talk about people acting out their dreams.

That’s another thing I’ve been known to do. The book claimed that people experience paralysis during sleep to keep them from thrashing about and hurting themselves or others. Tales are circulated around my family about me thrashing in my sleep. Three immediately spring to mind. Once, I came down to breakfast. Taking a look at me, Mom asked, “What happened to your eye?” I didn’t know what she was talking about. My sister said, “He hit himself.”

Wearing a mystified expression, Mom naturally went, “He hit himself?” I stared without comprehension about what my sister was saying. Sis went on, “I heard noises coming from your room so I went in. You were fighting with your pillow.”

“Fighting with my pillos?”

“Then you swung at it and hit yourself.” I scoffed, of course. I didn’t remember any of it. Sis swore it was true.

During a second night thrashing, my cousin was sleeping over. We were sharing a bed. He awoke to discover me on my hands and knees beside him. “What are you doing?” he asked.

“Looking for worms.”

As he said, “Worms,” I lunged forward with a shout, “There’s one,” and managed to hit him. That’s when I awoke and he told the story.

Third time was with my wife. We’d been married a few years when she woke me. “What are you doing?” I asked. “Why’d you wake me?” I was pretty cross about being awoken out of a solid sleep.

She replied, “You were moving around, and then started swinging your fists. I was afraid you were going to hit me.”

All this time, I had no idea that I have a mild sleep disorder. I wonder if it’s in any way associated with my ability to sharply recall dreams. I’ve deliberately curtailed remembering dreams to a significant degree. Making efforts recalling dreams ends up eating a chunk of time because I remember — or tell myself that I do, perhaps — a great deal. Besides that, the dreams show recurring patterns and get boring, like watching movies with different titles but interchangeable plots. I enjoy driving dreams, thought. I’m usually driving sports cars like Ferraris, BMWs, or Porsches, and I’m often driving them through snow, but enjoying myself.

That’s probably the best aspect of dreams that I recall. Many make little sense but through them all, I seem to enjoy myself. I rest easy with that.

Bird On A Wire

Bird on a wire

outside my office glass

peering at me sideways

sitting on my ass

wondering what I’m doing

making up little songs

telling little tales

about what I do at home

bird on a wire

you know he can’t be trusted

bird on a wire

I know who you are

and now you know you’re busted

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