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Howdy Folks,

Well, I escaped writing you a scrap of drivel for some six months now. Huzzah for me and a blessing for you. Unfortunately, the Redhead started counting on her fingers, and here I am again...

This has not been a restful year. In the Spring, Shirl decided that the house needed work. She has been deciding that about me for some time now but dares not try it. I bite.

Anyway, early in the spring we contracted with a remodeler to stain our cedar house and to do scumteen-eleven odds and ends that Shirl wanted done inside. She also set up appointments with landscapers and tree trimmers that really weren't necessary. Ah well, what the heck do I know?

The problem was that these guys were in and out all spring and summer long. Good god! You could have built a house, landscaped a yard, and grown a woods in that length of time. One of the landscapers contracted yaws and work had to cease until he recovered. Somebody carjacked the tree trimmer's bucket truck, so he couldn't trim the tall trees until the police solved the grand-theft-bucket-truck case. The house painters would start to stain and it would start to rain and the crew would disappear for 10 days during which there was brilliant sunshine. The inside men no sooner started doing whatever it was that Shirl thought needed doing than the boss had to go on his annual vacation. He took two during the course of the job. And here we are in October and the roof of the glass room has still not been caulked. I am like the big blue cat Pewter. This constant coming and going of people sets my fangs on edge. I do not like living in an airport.

The little black cat Sooty is like "Honey Badger." He don't give a damn. He's long since decided that humans are creatures of little consequence, except to provide him with food and potato chip treats. People and their noise bother him not a whit. Besides, he has found a new purpose in life. He hunts moles. Now, since our house is backed into woods, we have always been plagued by moles. They tear up the front lawn. In the formal Japanese garden out back, they destroy the ivy and the painted ferns and even create huge mole mounds in the middle of the pebble pathways. Ah but not this year! We had a very mild winter and Sooty got his first mole in late January. Since then, he's brought in some 70 of the varmints. We have developed a barter system. He catches them and deposits their carcasses on the welcome mat at the sliding door on the deck. We take the mole, put down a handful of cat treats in exchange, and deposit the dead mole in the garbage. When he ran out of moles around our place he wandered over to the neighbors and started a search-and-destroy mission there. He's been so successful that everyone on our cul-de-sac wants to formally adopt him.

He does have a disgusting habit, though. In the summer heat, he also caught small red-tailed lizards that can detach their tails as a decoy to elude predators. Well, too often, they could not elude Sooty. He would bring them up to the deck door alive, drop them, and then chase them around the various potted plants. Sure enough, they would soon shed their tails, which continued to wiggle. Then he would eat the wiggling tail. He won't eat moles or field mice, but he loves lizard tails. An epicurean delight perhaps? Lizard tail con Linguini? I don't think we'll partake.

Well, in a few days, I will have some peace. Our son Matt is taking a few vacation days and he and Shirl are driving to Michigan to visit Carol Reynard, Shirl's childhood buddy and former writing partner. The cats and I will be alone. When they growl at me, I growl back. When they swat at me, I swat back. When they bite me, remember, I bite, too. We share a beautiful relationship.


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