[lit-ideas] Sunday Something

  • From: David Ritchie <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 21 Sep 2014 12:44:47 -0700

Before harvesting the grapes, de-stemming and pressing them, I sat outside 
under my hanging laundry, keeping my scalp safe from sun.  My mind was blank 
until I thought, "Clean has a very strong smell too."  While I made wine E. and 
her chums pressed apples and ate cheese.  The pleasures of peasants.  Yesterday 
evening's party was given by an English guy who, twenty or so years ago, 
proposed to his English girlfriend on the Trans-Siberian Express.  Having 
miscalculated the amount of food they'd need for this journey, they accepted 
the invitation of some Russians in the next carriage, who offered them chicken, 
caviar and vodka.  Last night's celebration had chicken, caviar, vodka and 
pictures of their journey.  I met a guy who'd been enjoying the vodka.  He told 
me how important it was to fight evil.  "Right," I said, nodding.  "This has 
been America's mission from WW1 on."  Unable to resist, I asked who had been 
evil in WW1. Turns out it wasn't the Turks.  

The day being unusually warm for September I'd slid the door to my office open.
Mimo came up to the screen, "Do you keep office hours?"
"At work."
"Are you at work now?"
"I was working.  But this isn't where..."
"Would office hours be when individuals put questions on matters they find 
troubling or unclear?"
"That is the procedure, yes.  At work.  But right now I'm writing a talk."
"What is?"
"Writing a talk.  All of us just...talk."
"And you peck at gravel and pooh wherever you wish.  We're different."
She fluffed up.  "No need to come over all high and mighty."
"I'm stating facts.  Can I get on?"
"With what?"
"Writing my talk."
"I couldn't answer that.  I've no idea what makes a writer tick."  
"Not being interrupted helps."
"Did you know you have mice?"
"Mice?  Little furry animals who encourage owls?"
"How do you know?"
"That they encourage owls?  Haven't you heard the screeching?"
"No, I mean how do you know we have mice in the house?"
"They said so."
"You really aren't concentrating are you?  Maybe we should have this 
conversation at another time, when you're less busy."
"Chickens talk to mice?"
"Not usually.  These were taking a short cut.  To avoid the owls..."
"Don't chickens eat mice?"
"Not at night."
"And these mice told you they were living inside our house?"
"They said they were living in something called 'the Alfa.'"
I leaped up.  "The Alfa?!"
Cheddar arrived.  "Funny.  The god's echoing."
I repeated myself, "The Alfa?!"
"There, did you hear that?  Echoed himself."
"Seems to have run off."
I opened the door to the garage.  The Alfa hasn't been driven much lately, what 
with one thing and another.  I checked inside the cabin.  No sign of mice.  I 
opened the hood.  Chaff fell from the liner.  Muttering, I pulled out my 
battery charger, hooked it up and announced in a loud and firm voice that the 
car would be driven just as soon as the battery is charged.  I have no idea if 
the mice understood, but they were gone when I started the engine.  Jeeves the 
cat is mounting extra patrols. 

I fed the chickens corn cobs.  Mac came out with me and immediately rounded up 
his ball.  I threw it and off he went, down the hill.  Appenzeller, standing 
astride the biggest cob, began talking with her mouth full.
"You know we can't figure out why the dog runs up and down like that."
Peccorino enlarged the question, "With the big orange thing in its mouth."
Mimo established the most important finding, "It's quite inedible.  The orange 
Rocky, currently top of the pecking order, tried to add something, but she was 
too busy eating before everyone else could get what was rightly hers.  Cheddar, 
walking around the group and looking for a way in, said, "We've tested it more 
than once.  Absolutely inedible that ball."
Mimo, "Not an ounce of nutrition to be had."
Mac was back, ball in mouth.  He dropped it; I threw it again.
"Our conclusion," this was Mimo again.
"Temporary conclusion," Appenzeller.
Peccorino, "Subject to committee ratification."
Cheddar, "Tification."
Mimo, "Is that he must be mad."
"Mad."  Cheddar did a funny little imitation of a mad dog.  I wish I could 
describe it.
"So we were wondering..." Peccorino.
Rocky, with authority, "If he's safe."
"You want me to tell you if an animal who hasn't molested you in two years, an 
animal who could bite any of your heads off if he felt the urge, an animal who 
swerves in mid rush to avoid bumping into you...is this dog safe?  He's a 
walking canine miracle, chickenwise."
They didn't get it.
"In the absence of Wensleydale..."
"We were wondering if you could offer some assurance..."
"On this rather pressing point."
"Cheddar!  That's enough echoing dear."
Mac arrived back and lay down to pant.  The chickens drew closer to inspect, 
walking in a circle around him, carefully avoiding the waggy tail.
"I think you'll find he's just a very happy dog," I said, "and proud of what he 
Mac dropped the ball and stood up.  He gave the ball the Border Collie stare.  
The chickens moved closer and gave the ball their version of a stare, first 
with one eye and then the other.
"It's very mysterious," Mimo pronounced.
"It's at times like these," said Cheddar, once again standing at the back of 
the crowd, "I most miss Wensleydale."

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon


Other related posts: