[lit-ideas] Sunday Something

  • From: David Ritchie <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 28 Dec 2014 10:54:08 -0800

Our neighbor sometimes has the leaf-blowing folk in on a Sunday.  They start at 
nine, which is inconvenient if, as we did yesterday, we've stayed up late.  The 
neighbor's a buddhist and so fussy about sleep she had the street light shaded, 
so you'd think she'd know.  But no.  To escape the loud noise our chickens 
usually migrate as a group to the far side of the house.  Today, however, Mimo 
was detached from the others and exploring alone when I opened the kitchen door 
on her side, toting a small container of food.  She got bread and Christmas 
pudding and three veg. all to herself.  Ecstatic, she ran from item to item, 
gobbling.  After a short while, she noticed that the others hadn't come 
running.  "Hallelujah," you could see it in a thought bubble above her head, 
"for once not just top of the pecking order...ALONE in the pecking order." 
Above my own head she could no doubt read a balloon too.  The thought had to do 
with dropping a bomb on the blowers.

There is a magic to Christmas which one undoes with great reluctance.  
"Where've you been?" Peccorino asked on Boxing Day, when I was slow to open 
their pen.
"What do you mean?"
The fault was not my tardiness.  "It's been days since any food fell from the 
"You've got your normal kibble."
"Indeed," said Appenzeller.
"But..." said Peccorino, and let the word hang.
With chickens it's often hard to assess how many beady eyes are on you.  They 
move constantly and like horses and many other animals, they have monocular 
vision.  You'd think that the greatest number of eyes any five chickens could 
be concentrating in your direction would be five; sometimes it seems closer to 
ten.  I clutched at an explanation for our miserliness, "We were cleansing."
"Well you should cleanse in our direction."
"We are happy to accommodate any and all leftovers."
"Except for citrus."
"As the sister says."
Cheddar was on a different page, "Wensleydale was against."
"Against what?"
"Really?" I asked.
"She said it was 'ethnic.'"
"Ooooh ethnic."
"Don't like the sound of that."
I asked, "What do you mean?"
"No idea."
"What did *you* mean?"
"We picked up a bug," I said, vaguely.
"That's our job," said Cheddar.  
"No," I said, "I mean we were all ill.  'Cleansing' was just my way of 
understating the discomfort; you read ads in newspapers for colonic cleansing."
"Why?" Mimo wondered.
"Why what?"
"Why do you read ads in...what you said...for that?"
It was hereabouts that I wondered if I might be undoing the magic of Christmas. 
 "By 'cleansing' I meant that our digestive systems became as quick as 
Rocky reached the obvious conclusion,"So you judge our pooh scattering to be a 
sign of cleanliness?"
I changed the subject.
"How are you doing with the Scottish play?"
"We're doing *a* Scottish play."
"Too much bad stuff in *the* Scottish play."
I reviewed "Macbeth" and "Braveheart" in my head.  "Go on."
Mimo, "Well, as you know we are of dinosaur heritage, so we've nothing against 
violence qua violence.  It's the scheming of Lady Macbeth, of which we do not 
"Scheming," said Cheddar.
"No, no," the others chorused and tut-tutted.
Appenzeller, "We are unanimous about that."
Mimo, "As for, 'Is this a dagger I see before me?"
Peccorino, "Horrible line."
Rocky, "Quite macabre."
I didn't know how to respond except with fresh peas...which having gone moldy, 
were made suddenly to fall from the sky.  Magic.

I bought Christmas crackers.  When it came time to pull them out, they were 
gone.  I suspect door-to-door parrots....They knock, distract you with chatter, 
"My name is Polly and I'm raising funds for..."  The flock flits swiftly 
in...grabs the crackers...make their getaway, all before you've found change.  
Be on the alert, is my advice.  And avoid all bugs.

Happy New Year to one and all.

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon

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