Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Good Egg

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It’s time for bed and I’m closing down the house: TV off, doors locked, kitties in their bedroom. I sit down at my desk one last time to check e-mail, and immediately notice that one of my paper grade-sheets for the two summer classes I’m teaching is gone. My eyes grow wide, I take a sharp breath, and look around the desk: no grade-sheet. One is here, but the other is not. I panic.

I immediately know what I’ve done: I've thrown it into the recycle bin with a bunch of other stuff. I remember picking up one single sheet of blank paper off the floor by my desk and placing it onto the recycle stack. How it got onto the floor, I don’t know. I have a new kitten now, Leo. That's all I'm saying.

The recycle bin is now sitting out on the curb in the dark. My grade sheet is somewhere in the mess of kitten food cans, tuna cans, and chocolate-smeared Snack Pack pudding containers, buried under a week’s worth of newspapers I didn’t read. I consider going outside with a flashlight to dig through the bin, but decide no: it’s too late and I’m too tired and I can do it in the morning. I leave myself a note by the coffee pot: “Grade Sheet, Dummy!”

I’m awake at 5 a.m., thinking about my grade sheet in the recycle bin. I have to learn how to post grades online. The era of hard copies is over, just like privacy is gone. I get up and dress, then hurry outside. I open the recycle bin lid and look down: there’s my grade sheet not far from the top, with all my students’ names and their very first grades smeared with chocolate pudding and soggy with diet pop. I’m elated. I fish the grade sheet out, close the lid, then turn and pick up my newspaper before heading back to the house. I gotta stop getting the newspaper, I think. I’m not even reading it anymore.

As I near my front door, I look up to see a pigeon arranging dead leaves on top of a pillar on my patio. The pigeons like these pillars, and often try to roost there, but I always shoo them off. I wave this one away with my rolled-up newspaper, then use the paper to push the leaves off as best I can, since the pillar is high and I can’t see the top.

An egg falls down and breaks. A tiny baby pigeon lies in the yolk-and-blood mess I’ve created. I bend down and see that the baby pigeon is as long as my pinky, but thinner than a pencil. It has tiny eyes and four legs, no wings yet. It’s dead.

I’m crushed. I’m guilt-ridden. I don’t know why pigeons lay their eggs on dead leaves. I go back into the house and call my brother.

“Guess what I just did,” I say when he answers.

“What?” he says.

“I just accidentally pushed a pigeon egg off my pillar and it had a baby in it.”

My brother gasps. “How big was the baby!?”

“Very tiny,” I say. “Not really a bird yet—but it had a head and four legs.”

“Oh, well then forget about it,” my brother says. “That’s the way of the world.”

“I don’t think its mother would agree,” I say, looking out the window to see Mrs. Pigeon sitting on the pillar, looking down at Humpty's remains. “I feel awful.”

“Don’t,” my brother says. “You didn’t mean any harm. You were just cleaning up your property. It was an accident.”

“I would have let it sit there until the baby bird hatched,” I say. “That’s just how I am.”

“You didn’t know, Kate,” my brother reassures me. “Why don’t you go out and bury it; then you’ll feel better.”

“Okay,” I say. We hang up and I go back outside, find a small gardening shovel, and return to the scene of my crime. I hack the dry earth until I’ve made a sharp-edged hole by the pillar, then gently scoop Humpty up and shake him off, into the hole. I scrape his egg and bloody yolk into the hole too, then replace the pieces of dirt I’ve managed to dislodge. I hack the dirt into smaller chunks so it’s flat on top of Humpty. He rests in pieces.

It’s 5:30 a.m.

I go back inside, where my grade sheet waits for more stains, and my newspaper waits for me to read it. I know my students’ grades should be out there somewhere, traveling from my brain through my fingers through the Internet and into an online grade book that will never get thrown out. I know I’ve been wasting twenty dollars a month getting the newspaper delivered to my house when I rarely read it, and when I do, it’s mostly bad news that I immediately forget.

I think of Humpty, something alive and tangible, a creature I could have held in my hand if I hadn’t killed it. My grades will soon take flight, the newspaper is already online, but Humpty’s days are over.

I would keep getting the newspaper and continue with my old-school grading sheets if I could have Humpty back, safe in his egg on my pillar. I would let Mrs. Pigeon roost all she wanted, my cats cackling at her through the window, my cats excited about Humpty, but everybody safe.

I miss the days when everything was real.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hasta La Vista

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I locked myself out at my parents’ last week. I’d been trying to do a good deed—water Dad’s tomato plants—and had even left myself a yellow sticky on the mirror in my bathroom to that effect: “H20 toms”. It all started the night before as my mother closed down the house. My dad was already in bed…having not watered his tomato plants.

“I’ll go water them now,” I said, addressing the air in front of my mom. She is hard of hearing so she continued to fill the coffee pots (one regular for me and Dad, one decaf for her). Her floral nighty swished. “I’M GOING TO WATER DAD’S TOMATO PLANTS,” I said again. This time, I caught her attention.

“Oh no, sweetie,” she said, shaking her head. “It’s too late. Let’s do that tomorrow; they’ll be fine for overnight.”

“Okay,” I said. I’ve learned not to argue with my mother because since she’s so good at keeping my father alive, I trust her in all other respects.

I wrote the sticky and went downstairs to the basement where I was staying. Seven hours later, I walked upstairs in my own pajamas—sweatpants and a man’s t-shirt—and plugged in the regular pot. It would percolate while I watered the tomatoes and be ready for me when I came in.

I went out the door that leads into the garage, then out the back door into the yard. There sat my dad’s tomato plants under an antique school desk, all eight of them clustered together in a crate, each to its own seed pot, sheltered from the rain.

We were treating these tomato plants with great care and caution, so I quickly jettisoned my first idea about hosing them down. I needed a watering can, but there were none in sight. What to do. What do I do at my house when I need to gently water my plants? I use a water bottle. I went inside to get one, or at least I would have if the door from the garage into the house hadn’t been locked.

It was 6:45 a.m.

Dang. Mom complains about this door locking behind her sometimes. Now I’ve done it. I need to get back in. My mom treats the house like a fortress and believes that nothing bad can enter into it while she’s in charge. I knew my chances of breaking in were slim, but I tried the first window I found, back out on the porch. I got the screen up, but the window was locked. Dang.

I speed-walked from the porch back into the garage, through the garage—past the bad luck door—and out into the front yard. Jesus was smiling down, making everything green and sparkly. Hi Jesus. Could you let me into this house without waking my parents? I tried the front door, obviously locked, then jogged past the picture windows, stopping briefly at the hosta grove under my dad’s bedroom window. He was sleeping in there. I could knock on the window and wake him up. He gets enough sleep with all the naps he takes. But I might confuse him. He could have a heart attack. Instead, I grabbed a basement window-well cover and wrestled with it before realizing it was bolted to the cement. Good job, whoever did that. No one will be sneaking in this way. I walked ten feet further, standing under my mom’s bedroom window. I could knock on the window and wake her up, but she needs her sleep. If anyone deserves to sleep in, it’s Mom. Don’t disrupt her.

At the back corner of the house, nothing but green yards and sunshine encouraged me into the day. Apparently all of the neighbors were sleeping in too, and all of their dogs. I was alone out there with the hostas. I walked around the back of the house, making a mental note to stuff something into the holes under the patio where the hornets were coming in. I had seen light shining into the laundry room down in the basement; obviously, that was their entry. We couldn’t go on spraying every single one with a cloud of Raid until it died a slow death and we flushed it down the toilet, not that they really went down the toilet at first flush. My mom wouldn’t let me put Kleenex or paper towels down there: sewer problems.

I’d been peeing on dead hornets for a week.

Finally I was at the back patio again, where I’d started about ten minutes before. I tried the patio door: open. My mother locks the house down but leaves the patio door open. There is something wrong with this system. I slid the door open about ten inches, then slid it shut, open and shut again, just testing. Why hadn’t I tried this door first?

I was still testing the open door when my mother appeared, all shorter than me in her bright nighty and bare toes. “What are you doing?” she asked through the screen.

“I came out to water Dad’s tomato plants,” I said. I felt like a giant of testosterone in man-clothes out on the patio doing jobs when I should have been inside, delicately sipping coffee and eating donuts with my mother.

“I’ve been watching you,” my mom said. “I saw you running from window to window. I’d catch up to you at one, but then you’d be off to another.”

The screen still separated us. I was still outside; my mom, inside.

“Why didn’t you let me in?” I asked.

“I thought you were exercising,” she said.

“Can you let me in now?”

“Of course.”

***

We pad to the kitchen, my mom all-girl with her night hair sticking up, still unable to hear me when I suggest a better way of locking down the house for the night, which includes actual locking. I sit down on a wood chair by the kitchen table. I know my coffee is perked, and I want some.

“Why didn’t you plug my pot in?” my mom asks, five years old again, the same woman who gave me a book for my birthday and put two crisp twenties and a fiver in it for bookmarks, one dollar for every year of my life, even though I’m actually 44.

“I didn’t know I’d be gone this long,” I say, deciding right then that I would never be gone so long again.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

No Elmer, No Ray

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I’m sitting in a booth with my parents at Bricks Restaurant in Motley, Minnesota. Bricks used to be the old El Ray CafĂ©, named after its original owners, Elmer and Raymond. Bricks is bigger and nicer than the El Ray, which went the way of poor management and an aggressive horde of flies. Bricks still offers truckers a convenient place to stop off Highway 10, just like the El Ray did, and the locals still eat there; Bricks has a tourist shop, a larger menu, and no flies. But there is no Elmer, and no Ray.

My mom remarks on the cool and drizzly day as the three of us stare out the window. “Look at all the standing water,” she says. “I almost set foot in a puddle this deep (she shows us how deep with her hands) last night in the church parking lot. I had to move the car, and even then, I stepped in a puddle.”

I love the rain because I’m from Phoenix. It could rain for my entire week here and I wouldn’t care.

“How ya feelin’, Dad?” I say, checking in with him, always checking. My dad has Parkinson’s and can move from upbeat to troubled in minutes. He sits across from me and my mom, wearing the eye patch I made for him last night. I made it out of Kleenex, shaping it just so, taping it to his glasses. My dad’s right eye is blind but still lets in a little light around the periphery, which makes that eye work hard to see more, which gives my dad headaches. No eye patch under the sun has satisfied him since he lost his vision months ago; he finds them all uncomfortable or faulty in some way. It took my coming two thousand miles and this homemade patch to satisfy him. He doesn’t care that he’s wearing a wad of Kleenex on his face. He loves his eye patch.

“Pretty good!” he says, sipping his Pepsi. I’ve never seen my dad enjoy Pepsi as much as he does now. He says it’s a nice jolt; I guess he likes jolts now.

“Well then we’ll have a good time at the nursery after this!” my mom says brightly. Our plan is to stop by Rosenthal’s Nursery to pick out geraniums for my dad’s parents’ graves. They’re in the same local cemetery where my parents’ graves will be someday.

If we still want to go,” I say. I look at my dad, whose one good eye sparkles.

“But if we don’t, we won’t,” he says.

“But if we can, we will,” my mom chimes in.

We are all grinning, remembering an old family story from when we lived in Escanaba, Michigan. I was seven and I had a little friend named Randy who was five; he lived down the street and was over at our house playing one day. My parents were gathering their own children and beach supplies to go to the lake, and as usual, my dad asked Randy if he wanted to go. Randy was so excited, he spun like a top in our driveway.

“If my mom says yes, then I can!” he said. “But if she says no, I can’t! But if she says I can, then I will! But if she doesn’t, I won’t! But if she says yes, then I can! And if she says no, I can’t! I hope she says yes so I can go, but if she doesn’t, I can’t….”

Randy, who in retrospect might have been slightly hyperactive, continued on like this until my dad thundered at him: “JUST GO ASK YOUR MOTHER!!!” My dad was never very long on patience.

Thirty-seven years later, we sit in this glorified truck stop doing the same routine.

“If we don’t go to the nursery,” I say, finally, “it’s okay.”

We eat our breakfast and Mom goes to pay the bill. I help Dad into his coat, help get him up and steadied on his walker. He’s dizzy and exhausted. He points to the floor next to our booth and says, “I could lay down and go to sleep right there, and that’s no joke.”

“We don’t have to go to the nursery, Dad,” I say. “We’ll just go home.”

“Sounds good,” he says in a gruff whisper.

Back in the van with my mother at the wheel, we drive down the highway, then down some streets, then past the cemetery where my grandparents wait for their geraniums. One more turn and we’re on our street, back home.

If my dad feels better tomorrow, maybe we’ll go to the nursery. But if he doesn’t, we won’t. Maybe we’ll fill the hummingbird feeders instead. Maybe we’ll eat some of my mom’s lemon cake.

We try to find something to be happy about every day, if we can.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Adoro a Mi Madre, 2

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Tomorrow, I leave for Minnesota. Today, I prepare my house for my absence, terrorizing it room by room.

I clean, straighten, scrub; I water plants and make hummingbird food. Doors slam, appliances run—my peaceful home becomes chaotic. I go outside to change the litter in the cats’ box, pouring out the used, holding my breath as the dust cloud of pee and poop rises up and settles in every moist crease I have.

My female Brazilian pepper tree gets the hose again, as long as I’m out there. She likes that once in awhile.

I leave the hose running and go to run errands, forgetting to set any kind of timer. Turn water off, turn water off, I think as I drive away. Hose hose hose. I hope my silent chant helps to prevent an accidental flood.

First stop: hardware store to make extra house keys because it seems prudent, though I’m not sure who’ll be getting one. My blood pressure and adrenaline level are both pushing their limits, so when the key-maker guy reads my t-shirt (“Pittsburgh Willy’s Gourmet Hotdogs” on the front, “Home of the Big Willy” on the back) and tells me how much he loves that place, I say, “I do too! The owner is great!” I’m friends with the owner, and have earned my t-shirt via a football bet.

This is a sign that I do have a life here in Arizona.

I get my keys and go to the check-out, where a woman named Joyce rings me up. “That’s my mom’s name!” I announce gleefully, wondering if this Joyce has a family who loves her, if she ever went camping with her family like my mom did, if she fished and hunted, like my mom.

“Thank you. Gotta go! See you next time!” I say, every one of my pores and hair follicles energized. I zoom out to my car and zoom to a favorite local restaurant to buy a gift certificate for the young man who will be watching my kitten, Leo, while I’m gone. Pores and follicles still singing, I drive to the bank, where I withdraw money to pay Nabe, who will be watching my two older babies, Sara and Lucy, and my house. And my mail. The birds and the plants.

My TV.

These are other signs that most of my life is down here, in Arizona.

I get home quickly after taking shortcuts through the hood. It took six years to learn those, and sometimes I still get lost. Everything can look the same in Arizona.

I burst into the house with packages and good cheer: “Hi everybody! Mama’s home!” Everyone is hiding. I lure Lucy, slow fluffy Luce, to the couch, where I have hidden nail clippers under a blanket. I wrap her up like a burrito as I always do, kiss her nose, then coax her claws out. She endures this affront with grace. Sara scampers by, la la la, you got her but you didn’t get me, and soon falls prey to my cooing: no sharp claws for you either, Sara Monster. I use the nickname Nabe has given her.

With the big girls taken care of, some laundry folded, the hose turned off, the paper canceled, it’s noon. Lunchtime. I fold a tortilla around some lunchmeat and eat it on my way to Leo’s room. The door grunts open when I push it in, and there I see Leo sitting in the middle of the room, a tiny black statue. What took you so long, Mama? He careens around. He loves the warm bottle I bring, toys, my shoes, running in circles. Leo just loves. He knows nothing else.

I sit on the floor and bring him up to settle between my bent knees, bottle-feeding him like I have for five weeks. He sucks on the nipple aggressively at first, but after ten minutes, he’s just sucking for solace. I watch his tiny jaws work the bottle. I love him, but he bit my lip the other day when I was kissing him. I love him, but he peed on my hotdog shirt.

I love him.

The writing is on the wall: I’ll leave tomorrow and leave all of this. I’ll put my Arizona life on hold and hope that the people I know best here care for the tiny hearts I leave behind.

***

I tap the bridge of my nose to draw me out of a memory. Come here, come here, I say to myself. Remember that guy you dated in college for awhile, the really cute football player who tried to cuddle with you on the cushions you were calling a couch on your dorm room floor? Remember what he said: “Don’t you know how to hug?” I think you were trying too hard with him, too hard to be physical. He probably didn’t want Juice Newton at that given moment. He probably just wanted to cuddle with you and watch the show on your black and white.

***

I rearrange my feelings along with school paperwork and bills. I give the memory its due: Yes, I may have been too overtly physical when I was younger, but now I know that a lot can be accomplished just by loving. I know how to hug now, and am learning to be quiet so naps can take place. Sometimes I take one myself, though it still feels like stealing.

Tomorrow, my Minnesota: my parents, my siblings, my nieces and nephews, God’s country, the Liquor Here signs, stretches of trees, lakes that are still too cold to swim in, the fishing I want to do. I’ll be lucky to find my dad at the breakfast table.

I’ll be lucky to see my mom again, the greatest example-setter I know. Adoro a mi mama, as usual.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Gray Area

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The semester is finally over: I’ve submitted final grades for a jillion students, I’ve put everything that had anything to do with Spring Semester 2012 away, and I can turn now to my future: gearing up to leave for Minnesota next week, and prepping for my summer classes. I have new teaching software to learn, my school is ripping away e-mail as we know it and replacing it with something newfangled, and…did I mention I’ll be going to Minnesota next week? For ten days? To stay with my parents in the little house on the scary?

It’s no wonder that I’m finding more and more gray in my hair.

I’ve often been accused of dying my hair since it’s stayed so dark and healthy for so long, but I never have. For now I just use my black Sharpie marker to color the grays that pop up and out in front, and I live with the knowledge that very long gray hairs grow from the back of my head, out of my Sharpie’s reach.

I was sitting at the sushi bar with Manfriend last week, telling him about my increasing number of grays.

“You can’t even see them! Don’t worry about it,” he said. “Just don’t grow one of those skunk streaks.” Manfriend moved his hand to demonstrate where the offensive skunk streak should definitely not appear, dragging his fingers around his own hair as if smearing white manure into it. He screwed up his face. “You don’t wanna look like Cruella.”

I cleared my throat. “Well, my grandmother Lotus had a white streak and my oldest sister has one too, and I have a patch on the left. I mean, it’s growing like that now.”

Manfriend shrugged. “Whatever. You’ll look fine.”

I stuck a piece of salmon in my mouth and wondered how a man could go from warning me about the worst possible stinkiest rottenest thing he could imagine regarding my hair to saying it didn’t matter.

Then last night, after my shower had washed most of my Sharpie ink out, I pulled my hair back into a ponytail only to see all of my gray in front—each hair about three inches long, since I’m letting it grow now instead of plucking it out—standing on end in patches, poking through all of my other long dark hairs. I didn’t have time to Sharpie them because Nabe was coming over, so I tried to tuck in the straggles. No deal—those gray hairs are strong and stiff, and mine will be standing on end until they grow another few inches, in another six months.

I walked out of the bathroom au naturale, hair pulled back, looking basically like myself except for patches of gray squiggly wires sticking up here and there from the smoothness created by my pony. Nabe had never seen me without my hair being Sharpied. Nabe is eight years younger than I am.

He was waiting for me on the patio, smoking, having let himself in. We’re that friendly. We pulled up chairs to watch the rain, always an event in Phoenix. “Look at my hair!” I said in my complainy voice. “Look at all the grays sticking out!” I tilted my head towards Nabe.

“I don’t see anything,” Nabe said, flattening my conversation topic like a lawnmower might a weed. “You girls worry too much.”

I sat back and tried to decide if I was pleased or upset. Had he even looked at my hair? Did Nabe ever pay attention to me? Or did he think I was pretty no matter what? I can never tell where Nabe is coming from, where Nabe is going, or what Nabe is talking about. I can never figure out what I am to Nabe, other than the live version of the Kate dolls he keeps at his house: the blow-up one and the voodoo.

We sat then in silence, except for the noises that a rainstorm makes, passing the peace pipe back and forth. Nabe has already forgiven me for accidentally shaving his sideburns off during that one haircut gone wrong. I’m sure he’ll forgive a few gray hairs.

I wish I could be as forgiving as Nabe. I wish I could be easygoing, like Manfriend. I continue to blow smoke and remember what my grandma Lotus used to say…and I can still see her saying it as she sat behind her makeup mirror at our kitchen table, powdering her nose and using a pick to curl her skunk streak just so: “You can wish in one hand and shit in the other, and see which one fills up faster.”

A true statement from a true lady.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Not Yet a Hobgoblin

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Life has been so surreal lately that I expect a hobgoblin to round the corner at any moment, hand me a bag of McDonald’s food and skitter off to sweep my patio. Or maybe that actually happened.

I know this is because I’m sleep deprived after getting up with my new kitten Leo twice a night for nearly four weeks. For awhile it was fairly easy: turn off the alarm, trudge into the kitchen, heat up a bottle and go wake Leo. He would eat, burp, pee, perhaps poo, then back into his box he went. However, lately I’ve been trying to “introduce some solids”, just as my directions say to do. This means making gruel for each feeding, and since one of the nice ladies at our Animal Hospital informed me that the gruel must be fresh every time—not made in advance—I’ve been fumbling around in the dark with a paste of kitten kibble dissolved in water, then mixed with formula, then heated in the microwave for ten seconds, then stirred, then heated again for five seconds. I carry the tiny plate of gruel and a bottle to what used to be my library, my spare room—the room where I used to stretch each morning in the sun, with my older cats stretching around me.

It is now Leo’s room.

Night feedings became very messy because Leo did not prefer his gruel. No matter how I served it up (on my finger, on my shirt, doused with fresh warm formula), Leo didn’t like it. We both needed baths after struggling over the gruel, Leo’s desperate clawing at his bottle, Leo’s admirable but not yet perfect attempts at using his litter pan. Sometimes Leo actually did get a bath (in the sink, which he enjoys), but Mama never did. I would get up after a night like that with gruel and piss in my hair, step into my gruel-and-piss covered pajamas, and start the day like usual, singing gentle morning songs for my older cats so they would know the world was still right.

Then we would look into Leo’s room and see wads of icky paper towels, kitty litter clumped here and there on the carpet, a fresh pile of dirty rags, and Leo—beautiful big-eyed Leo—sitting in his box full of fresh linens and a warm heating pad. “Mama,” he’d say, rocking back and forth. “It’s time for me again.”

Finally yesterday I took Leo himself to the Animal Hospital; up to that point, I had only gone alone to buy his formula, get advice, and share my baby pictures with the front desk ladies. I put my tiny black kitten in yet another box and drove us to his appointment. We were supposed to be going to get de-wormed, because indeed I had noticed tiny white streaks and beads in his poo. To make sure, we had a stool sample in a baggie.

I continue to marvel at the longevity and multiple uses of one simple baggie, washed and reused.

We arrived at the hospital right on time, greeted first by an English mastiff waiting his turn with his owners. I put Leo and his box on my head, securing it with a scarf tied under my chin, and I would have walked many miles that way looking for water with firewood strapped to my back if I had to.

Soon, the vet tech came to get us, a kind young man named David. We got weighed (0.94 pounds), temperatured, and when I started worrying out loud about who was going to take care of Leo when I leave for Minnesota, what would happen if he wasn’t fully potty-trained yet and not eating real kibble, that I was thinking of taking him with me, David interrupted me and said, “I can help you out with that.”

“What?” I said.

“Yeah, I can help you out. We take care of orphan puppies and kittens all the time. My kids love it. My wife expects it. Everybody at my house knows how to bottle feed. You don’t have to rush him through anything; we can take care of him when you’re gone. Ten days, right?”

If indeed I was the hobgoblin who had been prowling around my house, doing chores and making messes, meaning well but never pretty, my hobgoblin costume fell away. The headache I’d had for weeks started to throb less. My heart soared a little bit. “You would take care of him for ten days? That would be excellent! Of course I would pay you.”

“You don’t have to pay me,” Sweet David said. “Just buy his supplies and we can do the rest.” He gave me a card with his name, number and work hours on it. “Just let me know when it’s time.”

No one had been this super-nice to me since…since…my best friend had left a balloon and roses in my office the day before, my 44th birthday. I am my own worst headache. Things are never as bad as they seem. My relief continued on through our wellness check, with the vet running tests on Leo’s poo. Leo did not have worms, but he was dehydrated and lacking vital bacteria because he never got to nurse from his biological mother. Those white spots in his poo were undigested formula.

My heart stopped until the vet looked at me and said, “But we can take care of that.” Thank God.

***

It’s springtime in Arizona and people are getting married. Students are graduating, teachers are taking deep breaths. This teacher is dispensing one measured click of live bacteria and prying tiny jaws open so somebody can start digesting his food. This teacher had her first full night’s sleep in four weeks because the vet said it was okay.

My hobgoblin sits on the window sill in Leo’s room, pointing silently at the dirty panes. He dangles his hairy legs down to the carpet, flicking bit of clumped litter with his toes. He seems comfortable there, so I’ll let him be.

Everything is fine for now.