Food and shelter are always issues the world over, but they’ve been more to the
fore hereabouts this week. Sonsie, who is not the world’s smartest cat, arrived
late to breakfast and began to make noise. Cats are L.’s job, but she’s in New
York. “What do we want? Breakfast! When do we want it? Now!”
I should explain that the breakfast buffet for cats is always available. In
addition to kibble, Sonsie gets a half a can of food that has been medicated in
some way to help cats who have widdling issues. Jeeves eats and leaves asap;
Sonsie likes his morning fuss. “Eeuooo, euoooo. Where’s the foooooooood?”
“I’ve put the food in your bowl.” I showed him the bowl, with food in it.
I waved the food in front of his nose.
‘You mean the food is already in the bowl?”
“You wouldn’t mind if I complained a little bit more before eating?”
“Whatever floats your boat.”
I went out to have coffee on the “Neverbudge.” It was going to be a hot day,
warm before it even got started. August was the hottest on record. Mimo
“Morning boss. How’s the hot stuff?” I asked whether heat bothered them.
“Don’t ever drink it,” said Pecorino, “But heat's in our blood.”
“We’re originally jungle fowl,” Mimo explained.
“Who is,” Appenzeller came up.
“Us,” said Mimo.
“We of the black, iridescent tribe make no such claim. Cool as advocates, us.”
Pecorino, “What’s an advocate?”
Mimo, “She made the word up.”
Appenzeller, “Did not.”
Mimo, “Did too.”
Appenzeller, “An advocate is a squirrel who knows the law of the jungle.”
Pecorino, “We know the law of the jungle.”
Mimo, “We come from jungle stock.”
“Not me. Which is why I consulted a squirrel.”
Appenzeller, “I’m thinking of drawing up a will.”
Mimo, “No good ever came of talking to a squirrel.”
Appenzeller, “Matter of fact, I have an appointment right about now.”
I think Hamish interrupted the appointment.
If I ever am tempted to paint a chickens version of Edward Hopper’s,
“Nighthawks,” I can now include all three girls, lined up on the perch;
Appenzeller has been re-integrated, at least for the nonce. The other god, the
true owner of the chickens, has gone kayaking in the islands, leaving me with
animals to look after and pickles to burp. Of all the things I’ve babysat,
pickles are perhaps the strangest. One jar is behaving itself just fine; the
other I’ve had to de-fizz in the sink. I doubt that’s the way things should
be, but I’m really very ignorant about pickles.
“Do you girls know how to burp vegetables?”
Pecorino took in a deep breath and demonstrated.
For too long we ignored the slime trails of freeloaders, giant slugs who, not
content merely to destroy our plantage, gobble the girls’ fodder. Several
nights in a row now I have been out with a sharp stone, reducing the enemy to
small and very dead portions. I hoped the girls would clean up after me but
Mimo explained union rules prevent them from crossing into other birds’
digestive territory. “Slugs are allocated to ducks.”
“But there’s no one to notice.”
“Doesn’t make it right.”
Quite strict laws in our part of the jungle.
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