Light Bulb Day

So yesterday was light bulb day here at the station (s) as our maintenance guy made his way around the building with new fluorescent bulbs, evil things that they are, to replace any that had died and gone to whatever Dante’s hell circle it is that is lit by dead fluorescent bulbs. Probably a place with IMAX sized Hieronymus Bosch paintings, except intentionally more perverse and disturbing, where the bright starkness of the light brings out even more explicit and unsettling detail than you would ever want to see but now can never be UNseen.   

I hate light bulb day.

When one or two of the devil’s light sticks go out around the building here it’s kind of a relief and makes for a much softer setting that doesn’t feel that as much of your soul is being sucked out of you (my studio, at least, is lamp-lit). But then comes Dennis, accompanied by some dark, foreboding deep bass soundtrack that makes time with his slow steps, he even seems to laugh for no reason (or he’s joking with Jimmy around the corner) as he enters the worst of spots in the building to make sure all the demonic lighting eye javelins are working at once … the Men’s room.

Stepping in there the first time after Satan’s assistant has ironically said “let there be light” when done I realize exactly why it is that of the three light bulb possibility I have in the lighting fixture in my bathroom at home that I use only one … and just a 60 watter.

No one needs to see themselves in this kind of light when looking in the mirror while washing hands, ever, especially not a guy who, as he gets older, has hair he forgets needs trimming coming from places you only noticed when you were younger in uncomfortable “can’t take my eyes off of” stares at some other old but back then guy. When you wondered exactly how eyebrows could unintentionally form points over each eye like horns (damn you Devil and your lights AND eyebrows!) how an ear could appear to be a planter of some sort of stringy exotic bush, how a nose could … no, I ain’t even going there.

And you wondered then how that some other old but back then guy didn’t notice these things and do a bit of trimming of the hedges unless, of course, he also used only one 60 watt bulb in his bathroom, or unless, of course, maybe you had somehow become him and now that younger you, on the other side of the mirror, is fixed with an uncomfortable “can’t take my eyes off of” YOU stare.   

I hate light bulb day.

Birthdays, 4th’s Of July And Small Stories

My Sis and my Mom came down from Albany this weekend to Buck’s place in Wallkill (Buck is Beck’s guy) for a little July 4th get together. Just a few folks, Buck’s son and daughter in-law, Scotty, a cousin of sorts and some friends, two other couples one of which I hadn’t met before but am so glad that I did as they were a too cool. Funny, relaxed, easy to join in conversation and share a silly story or two, especially Angie I think was her name, though I would need a few more get togethers to really remember it, newly introduced names can get lost sometimes in a just almost there kind of way, like car keys in your other hand. We, and Beck, talked of being crazy cat ladies (guys) among many other things.

And there was also Victor, Buck’s grandson, his daughter’s talkety talkety talkety 8 year old who regaled us with an 8 year old’s stories and brought us nothing but smiles while he held court on Buck’s patio pushing his baseball hat back and forth around his head. He even read us the story he wrote for Buck, who the kids call “Choppy” (don’t know where that comes from but certainly much better for Buck’s not old feeling piece of mind I’m sure, much better than Grandad or Grandpa) a one Victor bound with stapled pages about how Buck was 61 years old and was named “Choppy”, and maybe how that was even his given name if I remember the story correctly, like a Mom and a Dad would actually name their kid Choppy and how he bought what he thought was a house from three “sale guys” named Bob, Hazmat and Fart who actually tricked him into buying a spaceship instead that Choppy jumped out of after screaming “NOOOOOO!!!” when he realized he’d been had.

It was quite gripping, edge of your seat kinda stuff and reminded us of the wonders of 8 and the talkety, talkety, talkety that comes with that 8 especially from Victor who is fabulously good at the tellings. It was also illustrated by the author himself by the way, who made sure to note that on the title page, and of the reading of that page twice to us for emphasis.

Now I’ve mentioned this before, many times, but I don’t go out much, even less than the nothing that the last year and half forced us into if that is possible, perfectly happy to ignore the world if I can with only my furry girls, a few words here in the Attic, a Bucco game or some Sci-Fi on the tube, but I do truly enjoy going to Buck’s place and hanging with the gang, good food at the offering, MY gang and just sitting spinning stories and laughing sometimes at the stupidest of shit once I do decide it’s Ok to get my ass out of the house and relax in a bit of something people call being social.

Actually, when I got home tonight I saw Celie in her kitchen and when I told her of my day she said …

Celie: “You mean you weren’t here?”

Me: “No”

Celie: “All day?”

Me: “Well, not since 1p when I left”

Celie: “You mean you left the house?”

Me: “Yes”

Celie: “Oh, good. Glad you weren’t dead up there.”

Me: “Thanks, glad I wasn’t dead up there too”

This today also included a bit of celebration of my birthday, which was a couple of days ago on the first, a celebration that just involved some ice cream cake, candles, Victor making sure to remind me not to spit on it when I blew the candles out which I assured him I wouldn’t, discussions of Fudgie the Whale and whether Carvel still made such and a few presents.

Mom seemed excited to give me hers. Now keep in mind that she is only an in the moment anymore, I’m not really sure she even remembers where this gift came from, it’s heartbreaking, but you just try to live in that moment with her.

It was a box inside one of those cool little pouches with a pretty ribbon for the sinch squeeze at the top and I’ll tell ya, in a million years, if anyone had asked me to guess what was in that box inside that cool little pouch with a pretty ribbon for the sinch squeeze I wouldn’t have guessed this. It was probably something that Beck bought for her to give to me. A Day of the Dead Sugar Skull. I kinda knew what that was, but I still had to look it up just to be sure. It was a Pittsburgh Steeler one. Yeah, apparently there are those but there ain’t no guessing that is ever going to bring you to a Pittsburgh Steeler Day of the Dead Sugar Skull birthday present from a Mom. I would have only, at best, gotten to socks or a Pirates T-shirt or maybe some underwear in the guessing.

I did though try to make sure that it fended off any unwanted spirits from around Mimi’s butt … just in case of course.

Beck also gave me a present of meat, something from her and my nephews. Yes, It was a bit of a different day when it came to the pressies. A couple of steaks and some higher end hotdogs (I do love hotdogs so that one was well received) and they weren’t actually hotdogs but were “Wieners”.

I know huh? Fancy.

Victor giggling: “Wieners”

With ya Victor. If I’m 8, “wieners” is some pretty funny stuff, hell I’m 57 now and “wieners” still makes me laugh.

Victor: That’s funny that they’re called wieners. Hey Ms Becca (what he calls my Sis) where did we buy these?

Beck: At BJ’s.

We all erupted in laughter, with a quizzical Victor wondering why the hell that was so funny.

Other Victor’s from the day?

He had gone fishing with Scotty, that Buck cousin of sorts I mentioned earlier, cousin through marriage kind of thing I think, though that stuff, extended family ties and the labeling of such eventually just confuses me.

Me: How’d ya do guys?

Scotty: He was the man! Just kept catching ’em.

Beck: How many Victor?

Victor: Somewhere around more than 9.

He and his Uncle Neil braved the pool, I say braved as today was a bit on the chilly side for July. When they got out, Victor came to the blue-lipped realization that wearing a T-Shirt always seems like a good idea at first until you get out of the pool to a breeze.

Neil’s wife Siobhan (the coolest of names): How was it?

Neil: (cavalierly) It was fine. Not too bad.

Victor: No words just a cold askance wet shirt raised eyebrow look that shiveringly said Uncle Neil you’re a freakin’ nut job! That was cold!!

– —

Victor: I’m gonna wrap a potato with potato eyes in some paper and give it to my Dad like a present.

Me: Why?

Victor: Potato eyes freak him out.

Me: Really?

Victor: Yeah.

Me: I love this kid

While he was head down in the ice cream cake he made sure I didn’t spit on in the candle blowing?

Victor: Thank you for having a birthday.

Me: Ummm … well you’re welcome my friend. I’m thankful of having a birthday as well.

///////////////////////////////

Yes, I’m thankful of birthdays Victor even if they add a new number every year that I’d prefer not to think about but sometimes they come with good days of actually getting out of the house, Pittsburgh Steeler sugar skulls, unexpected meat, new friends and funny small stories.

Cheers all,

Sharky: A Cat

I got a text from Celie not too long ago, around 5p, while I watched whatever reason has me trying to justify my newly spent 9 bucks a month for Netflix (Sweet Tooth is worth the justifying by the way, at least for now).  

It was timed 8:15 am. I got it at 4:53pm though I didn’t note the time at first, it was a just a text.

Celie: Just in case you are going anywhere Shark is under your car

Me: Ok

(Celie would eventually mention to me that she didn’t understand my response, I told her that I didn’t realize the text had been sent 9 hours earlier but didn’t arrive until then and I also didn’t know Shark was gone)

Not too much later when I actually did note the time of the text I remembered a morning.

I had gone downstairs to throw my once a week in the washer while Cele, who was there with the gang, made a point to not allow me to fold what was done in the dryer of her and Matt’s stuff.

Celie: You don’t need to do that … grab, grab, grab.

Me: But I actually like folding clothes, it’s ok (I really do like folding clothes)

Celie: It’s good …. grab, grab, grab

It almost makes her mad I think so I cut whatever could be losses and let her grab, grab, grab.

I then threw my one stuff set in the washer and stepped into the kitchen around a barking Louie and a bouncing Chi Chi and slumbering others, sorry, a slumbering others AND a Georgia back flop belly wait.

“Aaaaahhh, love ya Georgia, but ya gotta stop this back flop belly thing girlfriend. I’m an old dude and all this bending for belly rubs every time can only go so far.”

Amid the bouncing of a Chi Chi and way too loud barking of a Louie, a Honey Bob Tail “Boo” stepping over some chairs towards me and Florida’s unmistakable meow and seeming reticence to but wanting a pet anyway, Sharky came about my feet with some light huffing and a head turn. I picked her up for an under ear shoulder.

Not too long ago Shark had come to aging with an abscess of some type in her forehead, a one Celie and the Doc down the hill at the shelter drained as often as they could but eventually was faster than the drains leaving her with a somewhat quasimodo looking noggin. It was an indicator of bad things and soon short days. But in these short days she had taken to front porch breezes or grabbing spots under cars and trucks and behind tires in our parking spot.

Earlier in the week

Celie: “Keep an eye for shark before you head to work. She can’t really hear now and I’m not sure how much she can see with this thing either.”

“Will do” I said and did do with bending’s down behind BB replete with old man sounds and breaths just before each head off.

/////////////////////////////////////

Celie said she may be saying goodbye to Sharky today. The prettiest of Calico cats, a one who looked like an animatronic doll, with a just so head tilt and eyes the envy of any anime character.  

/////////////////////////////////////

One of my greatest pleasures in this place has been feeding the cats on occasion, slowly talking to them all as I putzed about old man like in someone else’s kitchen, confirming crazy cat lady guy status and shooting Celie a text eventually that said “cats are good”. Covid changed that as we all distanced but Sharky, then, was my assistant chef, a hop up on the counter and a face in the big bowl I would use for mixing a couple of cans of wet stuff with some dry and a bit of water. That’s where her name came from according to Matt, her ravenousness as if she had never eaten before. She was a “you’re not helping Shark” as she moved under my hands at the sink’s sponge with a bowl or two to wash. She was my nose to forehead in this sponging wet hands only wanting to finish and then see the dole out of food, cat noses down.

There’s been a number of goodbye’s in my 3 + years here. Blue, Bruce, Chubs, Bunny, Dolly, Lola, Spanky, Sweets the Fox (I try not to think about that one as that will just bring torrents) all who I called friend with a shoulder ride and a behind the ear like Sharky now. Well not Blue, not that he wouldn’t have liked the attempt I’m sure, but he wasn’t a cat and was a big boy. Nor Sweets, a skittery giggling backyard Susan of a Fox who minded me with a little distance, closer with my handful of the wet raw stuff on mornings when Celie wasn’t around.

But Sharky was part of the lot of my kitchen cat shoulders, usually the place to just distract her away from the under hands attempt at that bowl wash or two or a face in the big bowl.

/////////////////////////////////////

Later

Celie: Sharky is no longer with us.

Me: Sigh. Dammit.

/////////////////////////////////////

She’s gone now though and not to some mystical place with paws across a mythical bridge to help us feel better, no, she’s just a life lived well that finds its end. I’ve lost my Grayson and lil’ kit Blink in my time here as well as the rest. Lost friends you can’t ease with thoughts of rainbows no matter how much you try.

You remember singular things. Grayson on the fridge top swiping at your head or a walking around this place talking to himself, Blink plopped down on a pile of newly dried laundry to a quick “oh cool, laundry … Ok I’m out … zzz”,  Blue in his intimidating big chested look to run over to BB like a puppy at your get homes, Dolly and a Broadway “Hello” song in your head, Chubs and prairie dog stand ups waiting for that night’s can crack, Bruce, the most Lebowski of cats, with a Billy Idol looking smirk frightening the dogs merely with his presence, especially Pea who would tap and bounce and whine and growl at him as he blocked a doorway, scared to death, Bunny and that one bent ear that loved a bit of a rub, Lola who owned you and reminded any that needed reminding of that with a pop, Spanky in her littleness but determined “I’m here with the big ones”, Sweets playing with a then Georgia puppy in the mornings and, well, just the magic that was Sweets the Fox … and Sharky as my assistant as I imagined myself some sort of cat food chef only needing a crack sound and a spoon for the preparing.

///////////////////////////

I took her on my shoulder under ear out the back porch to the pool for a sit and she grabbed a spot under one of the bushes that sit poolside. There was sun and a breeze, a light thing, but a breeze. She layed down under the bush’s shade. I swear if she could have …

///////////////////////////

C’mon Shark hop up, yes I know, it’s big bowl time. Can ya give me a hand?  

You could say a Picture is worth a thousand purrs huh?

In A Trump Cultish Way (song)

I’m sure for whoever might occasion this place, minding footsteps for cats (appreciated) and watching their heads, that me adding another tune to the clutter here in the Attic can bring a breathy , heavy “sigh” … but it’s kinda my thing, or at least part of it.

So another something to sit in a pile of things or maybe on top of a cat window spot storage bin with a comfy towel for the moment … though Bella could give a shit for the extra company.

To the tune “A Horse With No Name” and for the intent of pointing out the revisioning lying nonsense we’re currently bombarded with on a daily basis courtesy of the GOP cultists.

In A Trump Cultish Way

La La …

On this next part of the journey  

Revisionists they work a big job   

Re-write Trump things play the whitewash card

Dems to blame for looking at scars

Dem’s want to rehash a thing with no gain

Nothing to gather – commission won’t change

Just ask Ron Johnson or Andrew Clyde

No insurrection but Clyde he did cry

They come down the mountain in a Trump cultish way

They bring tablets of lies now in play

Nothing to shame – to make them take a new turn    

Cause polit-ti-cly they need truth to burn

La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la

After 5 months since the cap riot run

Where insurrection had backup’s white guns

From vivid vid proof and 5 people dead

To normal folks doing touristy things

Or simple protest and what patriots did bring

A re-write to protect their gold king

You see they come down the mountain in a Trump cultish way

They bring tablets of lies now in play

Nothing to shame – to make them take a new turn    

Cause polit-ti-cly they need truth to burn

La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la

——–

After four years a new playbook was writ

A How to to democracy’s fall

How to chip away at institutions held dear

future despots could now hear the call 

They devote to the pages like some gold gilded tome

Where lies are truth you just repeat on and on

It’s like a scripture handed down from their king on the mount

To disciples not held to account

You see they come down the mountain in a Trump cultish way

They bring tablets of lies now in play

Nothing to shame – to make them take a new turn    

Cause polit-ti-cly they need truth to burn

La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la

La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la

La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la


La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la

Hey Ron, you ignorant prick, what the fuck is an-tEEfa?

A Large, Random, Smiling, Light Green Inflatable Whale With A Golden Horn, Unicorn-Like

A week or so ago, maybe the beginning of last week, or just the end of the one before, at one of the houses that I pass on my way home from work there suddenly appeared a large, smiling, light green inflatable whale with a golden horn, unicorn-like, with no real reason, well, no real reason that any passerby like me is going to know I guess. I know of no cartoon characters to associate with it, no kid’s shows that I am aware of (though if I were aware of any current kids shows as an older single dude with no kids and three cats that might be a worry) no holiday to tie it to.

I did for a quick second think of Fudgie the Whale but I don’t think a Key Lime version of such would have the same appeal. No, it’s just a large, smiling, light green inflatable whale with a golden horn, unicorn-like, sitting smack float in the middle of someone’s front ocean yard.

Now I’m sure there is a pop culture reference for this that I just don’t know and that there is a perfectly good reason for it floating there for them, maybe a birthday request from a youngin’’ or something.

“Hey Dad or Grandad, or Mom or Grandma, do you think you could put the whale in the front yard for my birthday?”

“Sure, and how abouts we just leave it there for a while?”

“Yay!”

Whatever the reason …

But every night since I first noticed this large, smiling, light green inflatable whale with a golden horn, unicorn-like and indeed unicorn-like as it is one of a kind it seems, at least to me, I have just laughed as I’ve passed it, just fucking laughed. Laughed at the sheer seeming random of it. Just laughed.

Dear house on my way home with the random large, smiling, light green inflatable whale with a golden horn, unicorn-like, floating in your front ocean yard,

Thank you.

I’ve needed that.

Lori Says To Zoom

I know I’ve mentioned this before but I have these Zoom calls with friends of mine from the college days, a three best who help me find my center when things have gone askew which is quite often. I sooooo look forward to these calls, once a month or so, especially after what can be long weeks around here.

I told Lori she is my carrot.

One of the best parts of these calls is just the initial connect, a Lori face with a cat in her hair just to my left on the screen, a Tom to the center, then a Mark moving things for the view to a now Zoom room square, faces that remind of youth and the best of days or mistakes and lessons learned, of helping each other to grow up, sometimes forcing, friends that were found unintentionally but have been held all these years.

We talk of nothing … or everything, Lori of a bones told memory of anniversary’s and hurt this night with a bit of Crown in a tumbler’s fresh ice for the softening, Tom in his Tomness of trivia nights lost or of his wonderful blog about ghosts and frights and all things scary, (blogferatu.com), Mark keeping us informed on the news if we’re lagging or lamenting his numerous gigs with a Mark face that wonders why he has to have so many.

We talk of the fondest of memories, of college days and a Dr Bower poetically rolling square balls down hills while setting almost spent cigarettes to stand up on a podium with a smoke that still wants, back when smoking happened in classrooms, while reminding you of what was important in your work or lack thereof. Of a Dr Sipple who was a dad, the one you never wanted to disappoint and who taught you so much and the one to this day that you still hope to impress, just to let him know you still remember that importance. Of a Dessie who it was that kept the English Department together and who always had an ear amid her busy days for you to sit in the chair at the front of her desk.

You talk of Art, you always talk of Art, our collective ghost of a friend who could wrap a word within a word, give it a twist and then have it come back newly defined, you talk of him in deferential but angry ways “where the fuck have you been?” but then you remember that he loved a bit of intentional drama.

“Sleeping on the floor inside a bedframe, really?”

 “Disappearing?”

You move your camera to show a Mimi the Quirky on her bar towel just above your keyboard, a little Bella in her latest choice of one of your three PC chairs (cats got’s have choices) or just let it sit where it is to see a Cricket the Blind, with a swipe, swipe, swipe burying the food in bowls just over your shoulder. You watch a casual cat butt/tail pass in front of Tom’s hairy mug quite a few times, Lori moves hers to show you Jake asleep on the brand new love seat that was instantly dog commandeered the second she placed it in it’s spot, and if Mark is there you tell him it’s time to buy cat food and then get a cat to feed it to, maybe two.

Lori set the window at 5 hours for this Zoom call which I thought was kind of silly as who the hell is going to talk that long?

5 hours later, with Tom’s old dude stretches and hair rubs and Lori’s tumbler of crown and memory being nothing more than alcohol tinged water now and a Mark who couldn’t be here this night but maybe imagined he was to get through a day, I had to say it’s rack time.  

These Zoom calls are a tether, they remind.

They hold you close.

America Redux (song)

For some reason I’ve had this one on a shelf for a couple of months, don’t know why really. I thought I had run a draft of it by my Mikey Six for a “Mikey likes it or doesn’t like it” taste test but without much response … none actually, apparently we had run out of milk. But then I remembered that well, remembering isn’t necessarily the most reliable of things these days, freakin’ keys and glasses (back pocket top of your head dude) so I looked back in my messenger and saw that I had actually only run it past two of my six Mikey’s. So, I bought some more milk and ran it past the other four. I got one “that’s good Steve” which was enough for me so now I can at least tout this as “1 out of 6 Mikey’s agree” and post it.  

(my Mikey Six, by the way, are six really good longtime friends who have spent years learning how to tolerate me and pretend to be nice)

To Neil Diamond’s “America”.

America Redux

White

– 

We be claiming our right

In this our home

All others don’t belong

Place

Go came from and be free

Any disagree

I’ll show ya my favorite tree

But talk out loud we will remind

Our pretense is color blind

How can we be racist kind

Just flag and country we’re aligned

Got support of the like mind

In high places there where you will find

It’s Greene and Hawley and Boebert time

On our white they’ll never drop a dime

News

It paints us in the wrong

Ignores our patriot song

We just love country strong

Fight for white all along

Cues

We take them as they come

Blind to dumb just to be as one

From power to us armed pawns

We just want to belong

– 

Ron Johnson in his insane world

Cap riot not a real concern

Though black lives would make fears curl

Insurrection just a flag unfurled

Claim nothing was really seen

It wasn’t it seemed to be

You’re all taking this to extremes

I’ll tell ya it’s just part of dreams

– 

We’re just acting on base instinct

One fostered with four years of drink

Of Krool Aid orange flavored lies  

Asking cut democracy’s ties today

We pray

Today

Violently say

Hooray

Our country ’tis of thee

We were intent on a hangin’ spree

Of those who wouldn’t see

The real truth in our patriot dreams

It wasn’t what it seemed to be

It was hugs kisses and sittin’ for tea

We were just tryin’ to make him proud

It wasn’t what it seemed to be

It was hugs kisses and sittin’ for tea

We were just tryin’ to make him proud

Brother Nick Makes A Move

Recently my brother, Nick (not to be confused with a Brother Nick who might be heading to a monastery or a commune) moved to Louisiana, a transfer from his Indian Point gig here. With it closing, Nick, not quite being done with his time, sought out a new place for the continue.

He dotted and crossed, sold old places and secured new ones, sent his stuff forward as stuff sent forward is always the best of plan if you can, as opposed to having have it be carried if it were a me as I’ve never been able to afford the send forward in any of my too many moves.

“U-Haul … friend … man … back … sore”  

He made plans for the trip from here, New York, to there, Louisiana, a one intended to be as stress free as possible, planned to take himself three days to do it. The main reason for this was that he has a Cherokee and a Smokey, cats he adopted and who are his “be” and would be his rock when finally in a new land where he could stand with this cat or two.

My sis and I kept up with him on his trip in the early goings, that first weekend as he left on a Friday, via group text.

“How’s it going Nick?”

“Where you at Nick?”

“How are the cats Nick?”

“We’re sure you’re good Nick”

“How are the cats?”

“What state are you driving through now Nick?”

“How are the cats?”

“Oh, Mississippi now, cool, how are the cats?”

“You’re not dead yet and you’re still driving how are the cats?”

Obviously, Nick’s welfare was our most pressing of concern but his two cats did enter the conversation.

He had even taken special note of the situation as to his furry charges, getting them checked and doc approved before his move with doc questions answered as to how to handle multiple days in a car/jeep stress that might come with a big, long ride move.

He found pet friendly places along the way and planned accordingly.

Eventually our work weeks caught up with us though, Beck with some stuff that is pretty important as she does pretty important things and me with … ummmmm … hey! I have important stuff too … ok … well … and our group text faded into a Monday …

It became a no news good news thing, I guess, but we were lax.

Beck broke the silence, on a Tuesday, almost 9 days since the last text. You need to prod Nick by the way, he’s not one to reach out first as opposed to me and Beck who will wear pics and stories of ourselves in this group text at any time, anything that seems pertinently silly, like proud new clothes for the preening.  

Nick: I can’t find Smokey

There was a collective pause. An air let out. I know you can’t really tell such a thing from a group text, but it was definitely an air letting, it was there, you could feel it, more than just a pause for my air fryer making an air fryer potatoes done sound and me just taking an extra minute or two to set my dinner and grab some ketchup, or Beck being distracted with nephews and cats and a Mom and a dog but there was a palpable pause. It was a pause that comes with a something you don’t want to acknowledge.

Nick: He’s been gone since Thursday … and there have been tornado warnings and it’s raining a lot … a lot.

//////////////////////////////////////////

My parents bought their first house at the top of a curved driveway’s small hill in Mahopac, NY, a somewhat long driveway to an above that gave you the feeling of not being one of those houses in the development just down the road where everything was flat and driveways didn’t exist, just mere parking spots with basketball hoops, where houses were all the same just uniquely populated, sometimes attempts made to differentiate but still the same flat two story things with nothing driveways that, though they stood alone in their plot, were really just the guy next door.

But we had our place. A longish driveway that went up, didn’t sit flat, but went up and found a house tucked into some woods and rock with a front door that, though it opened the same as any of the front doors down the road, opened just a little bit differently.

For Mom and Dad that house came with 3 things. A mortgage, a five year old and a dog, a one named “Lady”. Seems whoever my parents had bought the house from had only one real stipulation, the dog comes with it. Now I’m sure that there are many examples of home purchases that come with strange caveats. You have to preserve the lake your house sits on, you can’t shoo away the crows on your roof or turn off the creepy music, your neighbor’s wife might occasionally search your basement with a flashlight when you’re not at home, but a mortgage, a five year old and a dog?

Maybe they couldn’t take pets where they were headed and were forced, heartbreakingly, to leave her behind. Probably the best of scenarios to remember such a thing, though it was surely more they just a didn’t want the bother.

But Lady was a sweetheart and the doggiest of dogs, no matter her ownership and she became my best of friends, my first step into a humans suck, pets not so much world that I would eventually gravitate to and live in.

Lady was an outside dog, not that she didn’t come in, mind you, and grab a comfy sleep spot, it’s just that that outside was her best of place . She loved our semblance of a lawn, patchy in spots or overgrown in others, dad was still navigating it to show friends on Saturday afternoons at Mom’s insistence (he would have preferred otherwise), she loved the woods the house sat nestled in for the nosing of leaves and staring down assorted squirrels and chipmunks and the rest, loved her place in the world that allowed her to chase things, to bark at things, ignore things that didn’t meet bark standard, loved a grabbing of some sun in the summer, she opened my eyes to an individual pets need to have their spot. And I didn’t even really know what a pet was.

Maybe they left her behind though because Lady had a penchant, no, an obsession with chasing cars and became too much the worry. This one I could understand if such were the case. Lady viewed, in my smallish mind at the time, cars to be the greatest of evils, things that needed to be runningly nipped and barked at, things to be stopped at all costs, things that tore at her very being of dog. “You’re faster than me, larger than me, angrily louder than me and you must be stopped. You are intruding on my ability to bark at what I would like to bark at or not to bark at.”

We/she were Ok with this as long as she stayed up top around the house and didn’t venture down the driveway. I though, as some years went by, discovered some friends from school lived in that flat development with those nothing driveways and basketball hoops, discovered them on my bike once I learned how not to fall off this new found independence. When Lady realized that this was happening she took to following her boy but of course that took her off the hill and down to the road which, well, was just not a good thing. I can’t tell you how many times myself or me and my best friend, Ricky, who lived in another development just around the corner, had to turn around to shoo Lady back to the house before she tried to go another round with one of her rolling demons while tagging along. And I so would have loved her company on occasion for my idyllic rides around a wonderful suburban cliche but I couldn’t chance her obsession with her loud motorized windmills.

This obsession did not end well and I will tear up as I write this, do tear up as I write this as large trucks, all wheels on the right hand side of a tractor trailer, with a Ricky in tow on our way to his house, will always prove to be the greatest foil to a car chasing dog, who we noticed too late had followed us again, and who wouldn’t allow the monsters to disturb her view of the world or come between her and this boy of hers, possibly even cause him harm.

I’ve never cried as hard since. Not even for my dad.

/////////////////////////////////////////

Nick: My neighbor tried to grab him but just missed.

Me: Oh shit nick!!

Nick: Have flyers out. Downloaded the neighbor app and am keeping the faith.

Beck: Ok, so you have some word around?

Nick: Yes

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My mother was never a one to have a cat be an inside one. Not really quite sure why. Maybe her English sense of order and proper wouldn’t allow, or maybe it was just the hair. All the hair. There were couches you weren’t allowed to sit on that you knew well “living room” being quite the misnomer but cats? Not so much on the knowing.

Sixpence the cat though? The large short haired Tiger who ruled our place? He was given a pass and well, if you were a cat in this house Sixpence was the one who you modeled yourself after. Would you ever live up to him as cat? No. But you modeled nonetheless.

He was the only one who navigated my parent’s second house, and my mother’s “house cat” reticence (though a Marmalade would come and hold her own) not up a slightly tall curved driveway hill this time, but a one on our own flat now of a road right out in front. A busy one. A one that gave me a lot of practice at my new found cursing, in this case at the cars that often went by way too fast. A busy one that, sadly, worked out poorly sometimes for the cats that didn’t model Sixpence well enough.

You never worried of whether Sixpence would eventually jump into your lap at the end of the day though, he just would.

“Long day being a cat Steve”

“No cars it seems?”

“No, apparently not. Lucky today”

“Good”

“Lap?”

“All yours”

Sixpence was the IT when it came to being a cat.

He died of natural cat things, no unseemly end courtesy of Lady’s monsters.

But he sits large in laps, has sat large in laps in our memories ever since and is the real reason (as well as Lady for me with a heart pull) why we harbor fur.

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Still commiserating via text as to Nick’s lost Smokey, Beck and I feeling the dread after I don’t know how many days now.

Nick: Smokey is back!

Beck: What?!

Me: Dude!?

Nick: A neighbor just pointed out a cat in a bush. I put my hand forward and he came to me.

Me: Ahhhhh Jeez Nick! Right now?

Beck: Oh man that’s great!

Nick: He’s rubbing up all on me and won’t stop. I’m feeling a bit emotional.

Me: Cry the fuck emotional away! (damn that some projecting huh as I went for a full t-shirt tissue).

Beck : Yay!

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I don’t really know where it came from with my Mom and Dad back then but my sister and brother and I are pet folk, specifically cat pet folk, though with my sis you have to throw a big ol’ Razzy dog in the mix. But maybe it’s just because Mom and Dad never WEREN’T. I’m sure there was a Fluffy or a Snowball or a Woof Woof somewhere in their past, a ones that survived busy roads or a one who just wanted to be, just wanted to be, nosing leaves and minding varmints and her boy, damning the cars.

But Nick has a Smokey all loving him back up.

Maybe the universe has an ear for a trio of sibling pet kindreds in a group text’s communal hope. At least this time.

I’ll check back with ya Universe.

Note To My Visitors Here In The Attic

First, excuse the clutter here, all the random thoughts out in the open or the hidden or forgotten ones in numerous storage bins that at least make good cat bed window seats and, yes, the corners could use a bit of a dusting (a leaf blower would surely do the trick) but overall it is a comfortable spot and though I’m not the most social of guys the visits from you are welcome and very much appreciated.

I just wanted to thank you for taking the time and maybe even enjoying spending that time with some of my clutter and randoms and observations, songs, silly things, experiments, posts of cats, cats in posts, inane stuff or shit that just falls flat … sometimes hard.

This note, besides the thank you for stopping by, is just to point out something to you who may like what you read here, a something that I do too often when it comes to the postings and a something that is constantly pissing me off and causing great internal conflict (the parody tunes aren’t included in this note as they are always ready to go lyrically after they’re sung at my little work studio and then, in pieces, brought home here to the “Attic” for the edit).

Me 2: Steve, put the thought down. Put the thought down and back away from the keyboard.

Me 1: What?

Me 2: Don’t do it.

Me 1: Do what?

Me 2: Post this before you’re really finished with it. Don’t do it.

Me 1: But this one is finished this time.

Me 2: Really, you mean like that recent feeling old or not feeling old one? That one you added a good bit to and revised some of after the posting?

Me 1: Well … that one was different.

Me 2: How exactly?

Me 1: Ummmm … well you see that … uhhhhh … ahhhh … that one was completely different.

Me 2: Look, that one was just like the others and you’re gonna post this too early as well, but just by a day or two, you’re gonna get a few views maybe even a good number for you, be happy with the instant gratification but then come back to it tomorrow, maybe over the next couple of days and realize that there’s edits and adds you feel you need to make it better.

Me 1: Yeah?! You’re point?

Me 2: Well, dumbass, you ARE going to make it better, come up with a more “final version” and then be pissed off at yourself because the initial views, maybe even a like or two, haven’t seen the best edition of it.

Me 1: Hey, don’t call me dumbass!

Me 2: But you are a dumbass.

Me 1: People might come back and see the better version.

Me 2: See, I’m right, you’re a dumbass. You really think anyone is coming back to read this crap a second time?

Me 1: But …

Me 2: Look, just be happy some folks are around in the first place for the initial posting. Ya know, color me crazy, but how about that first posting be the one you edited with a fresh look or added to actually be the FIRST one they see? How about that for concept huh?

Me 1: Shut up Me 2!

So anyway, a note here to my Attic company. Yeah, some of these posts are better’ now, at least in my Me 1 mind, after a second look post-posting and some re-working. Now I’m not asking you to revisit, that’s up to you, I again, just appreciate your taking the time in the first place. Just noting it is all and well, I can be something of a dumbass in this jumping the posting gun regard.

Me 2: Told you.

Me 1: Shut up … twice, Me 2!!

Feeling Old … Or Not

Went to Walgreens recently to pick up a prescription and when the young woman behind the pharmacy counter asked me my name I said “Frankenberry – just like the cereal” like I always do to which there was just a kind of blank stare “huh?” response. Shit, dating yourself again Steve. When they have no idea of the cereal you’re referencing, where even showing them your Frankenberry tattoo probably isn’t going to help since they don’t know what the hell you’re talking about you will feel a bit old.

It is a cool tattoo though.

So yeah, I’m old, or older than I was yesterday when things seemed wide open, when I had dumb haircuts and bad clothes that I was proud of, when that oyster was there, when I didn’t start something new with “I’m old”.

I don’t really feel it though, sure, things creak, bending down comes with grunts and grabs at whatever’s close for the stand back ups, there are ankle cracks (I don’t think I’ll be sneaking up on up on anyone any time soon and I’d now be the first one discovered when trying to hide from the bad guys) I breathe a little heavier either from old bad habits or just the heavy sigh of the world we live in. Not quite sure of which. Both I guess, but I don’t feel old which I’ll take as a good thing, but I still am. Clocks are clocks after all.

I write some words at a blog, sometimes sing them, a sanity saver spot that lets me put them together, hopefully in some meaningful way and keep me going, help me feel as if I may have stories to tell that might be of interest to some, maybe create an image they can relate to, bring a smile or laugh or maybe the tap of a toe or two but the old persists, knocks on my door on occasion to remind, to tell me things.

Time: I’m a bit of a bitch right?

Me: Yeah, you are.

Now, this isn’t to be maudlin, bemoan the why’s and rail against clocks, I’m fully aware of time, but I still don’t feel it and I’m glad of that.

I’m still going at it with cats and a comfortable roof over a comfortable bed, though too often a one for the most furtive of sleeps (something the cats help ease) but still with vivid nightly dreams that are always colorful and hectic, sometimes sinister and menacing but also sometimes pretty and hopeful but all adding things to the noggin’s repertoire. I know that at my age I’m not my father at his same, I’m younger, I laugh at things he would never have laughed at though I might force it upon him in memory, “that’s some funny shit dad … really”.

I’m old Dad, but I’ve reached that spot where you always were in my mind, but only numerically and I’m just trying to take next steps. An evolution. I don’t feel old Dad, like I think you did of yourself sometimes, though these damned clocks keep trying to tell me otherwise.

(next step … ankle crack)

Son of a bitch.