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fall 2006

Howdy folks,

Panther, the black tomcat, is still very much with us at 24, close to 25 years of age, even though in the last two years he has had more strokes than a golfer with a handicap of 50 …playing 18 holes in a hurricane…after his eyeglasses have blown away. Pan is like some demonic feline Energizer Bunny. He’s the equivalent of 120 in human years, but refuses to die; rather, he lives to torment. Lord, his claws will no longer retract, so they get clumped up with pee-pie from the litter box. Then, I have to pick him up, flop him on his back on my lap, while Shirl takes wet paper towels and pulls the crap from between his toes. Almost as bad, he will no longer eat cat food or baby food, so I boil chicken thighs, tear the meat apart, then feed it to him in small bits every couple of hours. I find myself babbling in frustration: “Oh, sweet Pan, won’t you eat for daddy. He’s made it so yummy-nummy for you.” The mangy old black devil just squints at me and grunts. I often find myself slumped by his bowl on the kitchen floor with tears streaming from my burning eyes and drool dribbling from the corner of my mouth. I have not lived the most righteous of lives, but I don’t deserve this.

However, things will soon get more interesting. We are preparing for the annual visit of the Voits. Bob comes to graze, not visit. He has diabetes, so he must keep his blood sugar up by eating frequently. Bob must be the sweetest guy on the earth. He eats about half a hog and cleans out the henhouse for breakfast. Then, he has a mid-morning snack, a mid-mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, and finally supper. And he never gets fat! When Shirl and I go to the grocery store before Pam and Bob get here, we back a U-Haul up to its back door.

Anyway, during their last visit, I got tired of watching Bob munch, so I took him out to the target range. We took a couple of .38 caliber revolvers. Now, I hate to go to the range. Good ol’ boys are out there with their elephant guns, mortars, and rocket propelled grenades. The place is deafening but got ta be prepared. In the Missouri woods, you might run into an elephant or a pack of insurgents. So, half-deaf, Bob and I started to fire our popguns. Soon, Bob was yelling to me, “This dammed diabetes has ruined my eyes. I’m not hitting the target.” I mumbled to myself, “Yeah, but if it was something you could eat, you’d hit it.” He bags an elk every year. Aloud, I shouted, “squeeeeze the trigger!” He did and about a hundred yards away a buzzard dropped out of a tree. The range master came running over, bellowing, “Who shot that bird? It was the range mascot.” I pointed to Bob and shuffled my feet, trying a little humor, “He probably thought it was a KFC restaurant sign. He’s death on food.” The range boss was not amused. “Get him out of here while ya still can.” Walking back to the car, I had this itching sensation between my shoulder blades; the ol’ boys couldn’t mistake us for elephants; but I was betting they were figuring we were smart-arsed insurgents. Bob was muttering, “A little KFC would be right on target about now.” I started weeping.

The telecom company that Matt works for has been bought out by Time-Warner. The good news is that all of the techs like Matt kept their jobs, and their working conditions even got a bit better. The bad news is that Dick Cheney claims credit for the latter.


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