[lit-ideas] Sunday Something

  • From: David Ritchie <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 24 Aug 2014 11:33:47 -0700

In addition the death of Scottish singer Jean Redpath, which was a blow, the 
news here this week mostly concerned food and the getting thereof.  The 
chickens have an aluminum buffet available to them, usually full of pellets.  
There may have been a confusion of command or, I don't know, maybe She Who 
Checks This could have been preoccupied with canning tuna.  In any case this 
morning scarcely had the jolly glow of dawn done its thing this a.m. before all 
sorts of alarming alarm cries went up.
"The world is ending."
"Tragedy is upon us."
 I got up, rubbed my eyes, donned the flip flops and went to investigate.  As I 
approached, they fell silent.
"Oh hello," Appenzeller said, in her politest deferential tone.  "We were 
wondering if there was any more food available?"
Without boots, I wasn't going to step in and check the supply.
"Go find some."  I opened the door.
Appenzeller tried to clarify, "No...actually..."
I gave them the dadly glare and off they went, looking right and left.
"White water?"
Wensleydale muttered, loud enough for me to hear, "Got out the wrong side the 
bed, that one."
What may have added to my grumpiness was the thought that we had been spoiling 
them.  Yesterday they got the tuna carcass, bits of it, at least for a while 
(there's only so long you can risk leaving a dead animal out on a warm day.  
The experiment was brought to a swift end not by wasps but the dog.  Someone 
let him out and he returned with back end of tuna his jaws.  Visions of fish 
bone-ectomy flashed through my brain. 
"Give that to me," I said.
He said, "Yes I thought I wasn't supposed to have it."
"Good dog."

Before that episode the chickens took a fancy to curried shrimp.  I was not 
sure this would be a safe offering but E. had read that chickens have few or no 
pepper receptors and sure enough, spicy though the dish was, and old, they 
tucked in.
"Oooh, yes, I quite this this."
"Just run across and have a little of the white water, I shall.  Be back in a 
jiff."  (I'd put sour milk out too)

You'll be wondering about flock politics.  There has been a move towards direct 
action.  I can only assume that impatience with brooding has brought out a 
militant streak in some, for they began to dig potatoes out of the ground.  I 
interviewed them on the subject.
"What's the meaning of this?"  I brandished a spud.
"Potatoes don't have meaning,"  Peccorino.
"Not the potato itself.  The fact that you dug it up."
"Who said we did?  Could have been the dog,"  Captain Mimo.
"Or the cat,"  Peccorino.
"Or the other cat,"  Rocky.
I saw you running from the scene.
"Witness testimony cannot be relied upon,"  Appenzeller.
"Definitely unreliable," Cheddar.
"And you feet are dirty."
"They get that way,"  Rocky.
"Circumstantial evidence only,"  Captain Mimo.
"So you deny digging up my potatoes?"
They looked at one another.  
Chorus, "No."
"No what?"
Chorus.  "No thank you."
"What does that mean?"
"There he goes again.  Obsessed by meaning today.  Must have been reading,"  
Captain Mimo.
"Communing with nature is what causes me to think about the meaning of it all." 
 Wensleydale had arrived.  "What's the big problem?"
"He says we've been digging his potatoes."  Mimo.
"And have you?"  Wensleydale.
Chorus.  "Oh no, no, no, no, no."  Everyone was shaking heads.
Except Cheddar.  "Yes."
I moved closer to her.  "And why was that?"
"You were thinking of making your own?"
Mimo, "What's the secret?"

My fantasy this week was that the new phones might be prophylactic, that they 
came impregnated with "do not cal" bits that shouted all the way to call 
centers on call center island, "Hoi, enough thank you very much; how would you 
like it if I rang your number five times a day to say I'd like to ask a few 
questions or have you do something. Just bugger off why don't you?" And here's 
the thing: the fantasy came true! For two days after I installed the new phones 
there were no junk calls.  In fact no calls at all. Can you imagine that after 
the test call from my cell phone... forty eight hour of silence! Magic! But 
then a hole developed in the force or the space/ time continuum or maybe 
someone put our number back on the list. "Hello good sir, recent studies show 
how wital it is to stiffen your Microsoft."

In a pause between World Cup matches, wondering around the National Gallery 
with my daughter earlier this summer, I was listening to the squeaking of the 
parquet floors and thinking a person kidnapped and blindfolded could probably 
distinguish the Uffizi from the Louvre from the National Gallery.  We were in a 
gallery of saints and martyrs.  Very bloody.  J. was saying something.  "Which 
of them would get a yellow card for simulation?"  She often fails to begin at 
the beginning.  Gets it from me.  She'd applied a soccer test: were the ones on 
the ground milking the foul or would the ref call the infraction their way?
"You can't milk fowl," I said.
"We shouldn't be allowed out."

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon 
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