Firecracker

Fandango’s prompt word for today: BELONG

FIRECRACKER: A Feathery Tale

Rooster 2

See that handsome young rooster over there. That’s Firecracker. Raised him from a chick, I did, fed him, fussed over him, gave him lots of TLC so he’d be nice and plump come fall.

He was a cute little guy back then, especially when he started following me around the yard. I’ll admit, I’m going to miss having him tagging along after me, but now that he’s full grown, he’s going to be the star of our Thanksgiving table.

He wasn’t very old when the grandchildren named him Firecracker — and we thought it was kind of a cute name, so it stuck. I’ll tell you why he got that name. Oh, yes, he can make enough noise when he wants to, like at 5am when you’re wanting another hour of sleep. But you should hear him explode when he catches sight of a mouse or rat around the chicken yard. One day the grandchildren were in the yard fussing over him like they do, when he spied a mouse in the grass nearby. They said he went off just like a firecracker and went dashing over to do battle.

He’s been really good that way. Every time he sees a rodent he goes after the thing, calling all his ladies to come help him. He has a certain kind of squawk that says, “Enemy spotted!” and the hens come running. Our dog, Duchess, dashes into the action, too, when she hears that sound. Between them all, they make short work of rodents. I’m thinking poor Duchess will miss Firecracker. The hens will, for sure, but he belongs on our Thanksgiving table.

One thing I’m happy about is how good Firecracker is with the grandchildren when they come over — maybe because they’ve fed him grain and other tidbits ever since he was just a spring chick. Roosters can sometimes be cantankerous, but not him. You know how kids are. As soon as they get here, they rush out to see Firecracker and he usually comes running when he hears their voices, to see what treats they might have for him.

When I told the youngest grandchild last week that Firecracker is going to be our Thanksgiving dinner she got all sober and sad-looking for awhile. I probably shouldn’t have said anything. I guess they’re all going to miss seeing him around after next week.

One of the grandsons must have heard the news, too, because he phoned a few days ago specially to ask if I was really going to cook Firecracker for Thanksgiving. He sounded so blue about it. I told him that Firecracker has had a good life and now it’s time to say goodbye, because he belongs on our Thanksgiving table. That’s what we raised him for.

I’ve got the bread cubed and in the freezer for the stuffing. Next Tuesday my husband’s going to dispatch Firecracker. I’ll tell you, plucking that bird is going to be hard. Oh, hang on a minute…my phone’s ringing. I see my son is calling.

“Hi, Jason. How are things going? Glad to hear it. By the way, I wanted to let you know we’re planning to have our Thanksgiving dinner at 5pm this time… What do you mean, you’re not coming? … Are you saying NONE of you are coming? … But why? I have this huge meal planned… Your kids are all refusing to eat Firecracker? … But he belongs in our Thanksgiving meal. What am I supposed to do with him if… What!?”

Doesn’t that beat all! The grandchildren have emptied their piggy banks and say they want to buy Firecracker. They want to keep him as a pet, of all things, and we can just let him live here. And the family is offering to bring fish for the meal. Jason says none of them know any fish.

Oh, well. Anything for the grandkids, right? The hens will be more content having a rooster around the place, too. And Duchess will be happy if Firecracker stays around, seeing she’s grown so fond of him.

I’m not especially sentimental, but I have, too, if truth be told. 🙂

 

Listless

Word of the Day Challenge this morning: LISTLESS
A thought formed in my mind and has come out as a haiku.

One of the biggest challenges is writing any poetry, and especially haiku and senryu, is to know how much to say and how much to leave for the reader to imagine. I’d like to hear what this verse says to you.

the old dog listless
his master away —
how can he know

Ten More Days in Review

Or: Life in the “I-Can’t-Keep-Up” Lane

Skipping the “time flies” lament, I’ve been occupied with several projects lately: turning the office upside-down — dear Hubby did most of that — emptying and refilling bookcases, and cooking at the Villa.

Last week I did Monday dinner, Tues & Thurs supper, Wed, Sat & Sun all day. Just one of those “seasons.” I only have three more single meals and one full day during the rest of the month. But when I am working so much, the place tends to occupy me even when I’m not there officially. One morning I did some grocery shopping for the place, plus I like to spend time helping the folks to put together jigsaw puzzles. When I go to the city I hunt for more puzzles for us to work on, mainly at Value Village. 🙂

As I said, Bob shifted some furniture around in our office. This started last weekend when we had hot water heater woes. Our hot water tank being in a cubbyhole inconveniently right beside where my desk sat. Desk must be moved. Then we decided to empty the one office bookcase and put it in the living room. Which meant removing the quite small bookcase I’d just put in the living room, and then moving the six-foot one four inches over, so the office one would fit in the newly-made space.

By the time this was done we had books piled all over. While rearranging the office, Bob decided to move his file cupboard (actually another bookcase) to where the office bookcase had once stood, then move his 2-drawer filing cabinet to that newly-vacated spot. The new small bookcase went where the filing cabinet was and my desk was given a quarter turn. On Friday, my day off, I decided to clear out some shelves in yet another narrow bookcase/cupboard because we have more books than places to put them.

During all this and between shifts at the Seniors’ Home, I managed to squeeze in six loads of laundry plus misc. housekeeping & food prep tasks. I also attended Sewing Circle Tuesday morning. Totally fell behind with blogging — and sometimes wondered if I should just take a long break. I decided to “light one candle” this morning and see how far I get.

Nanowrimo started Nov 1st at 12:01 am, but I’m giving it a miss this year. An e-mail acquaintance wants to see his book in print; I was brought into this project by a friend who asked me to edit it. I did that last year, but the book is stalled and I’ve been asked to see that it gets into print via Amazon Kindle Direct, like I did mine. I now have the manuscript, author bio and illustrations, so need to get working on this.

I’ve submitted two of my “Winnie and Raylene on Vacation” stories to the Critique Circle and they’ve been well liked, for the most part. Now I need to polish a few more, write a few more, and post them on CC. I’m finding it interesting, through critique comments, how some words call to mind certain pictures for readers.

For example, in one story I’ve posted, a couple of teens have stolen a car and, chased by police, crashed into a garage beside a residence. Police were at the crash site directing traffic. One writer couldn’t figure how it was crash site because crashes happen on roads. Another critique writer couldn’t get it that a high speed chase would ever go through a residential area. High speed chases only happened on busy city thoroughfares. I wrote “garage” and some people are asking, “Like a service station? What’s a service station doing in a residential area?” So I’m learning to be more precise. 🙂

One question really made me laugh. I’d written that the weather was abnormal in FL and “The odd snowflake was falling when Winnie and Raylene got off the plane in Tallahassee.” A critiquer from Hawaii asked, “What was odd about the snowflake?”

I explained that “the odd —“ is a colloquialism. (Only in Canada?) For us, odd means unusual, but it also means infrequent. “There was no crowd; only the odd person showed up at the Grand Opening.” Or, “She took the odd afternoon off to visit her mom at the nursing home.”

Is this an odd (i.e. strange) usage where you live?

More than the odd snowflake is falling today. We definitely have winter with a powerful wind from the north plastering us with fine snow. Our cats have ventured outside the odd time this morning, but only for a few minutes. They come in dusted with snow and are generally NOT happy.

Well, this is enough rambling for one post. Have a good week, everyone.

Cats Dwell Above

Cat

Another fun haiku

both cats dwell above
my comfort zone — both
recliners occupied

When I sat down at the computer this morning, I took the folding chair left there from last night —  when Pookie had been occupying my comfortable office chair and I didn’t push him off. This morning as I started typing Pookie came along and looked up at me, then jumped into the unoccupied office chair. Finders keepers and all that.

When I got up and got myself a coffee fifteen minutes later, Pookie wandered out to the kitchen. I got back to the office in time to see Angus jump up and settle comfortably into the chair Pookie had vacated. (Vacatted ?) Point for Angus; 0 for me. Many times Bob and I come into the office and find Angus in one chair and Pookie in the other.

Cats have that sense of entitlement built into their nature; they may claim you as their people, but they make it clear who comes above and who comes below in the grand scheme of things. Whose comfort is of greater importance, whose not so much.

Yes, a house cat will want to be nearby — if they feel like it, or if something interesting might be transpiring. So when I’m in the living room, now able to occupy the recliner our (now deceased) Panda once claimed, Angus snuggles down in the other recliner and Pookie gets the sofa. Or vice versa. But while Panda lived here she definitely staked her claim on the most comfortable recliner and would not be ousted.

Okay, I’ll admit it. We let our cats call the shots. They are, after all, quite affectionate when they have a mind to be. Just so long as we remember who gets first crack at the comfy chairs.

Written in response to Fandango’s prompt: BELOW
and for “International Day of the Cat”

Memory of a Bird Rescue

I see that today’s RAGTAG Community prompt word is MEMORIES.
Opened my DropBox file and checked how many memories I’ve stored. Since I started my new system where every file is neatly categorized, I can take a quick check of the files starting with Mem–.

I counted 120 of them. So I can ace this prompt. 🙂

I suppose the idea is to write a fresh one, but I’ll cheat and pull one out of storage, a tale not posted for a long time. Hope you enjoy it.

Out of the Lion’s Mouth…

One balmy spring day I was visiting with my next-door neighbour, Marilyn. She has a lovely, flower-filled yard and we were walking on the lawn checking out the perennials around her house.

Several times we took note of a small bird hopping around on the ground not far from us. The tiny bird looked similar to a chickadee in coloring, yet we could see it was not a chickadee. Marilyn and I remarked about how tame it seemed to be, hopping around only a few yards from our feet.

Then we went across her back lawn to check out a new flowerbed she’d made in the middle of the lawn. Before long we saw the little bird again, not far away from our feet. Her three barn cats had also wandered over to hang around with the ladies, maybe hoping a bit of nibbles — or a least a bit of friendly petting — might come from some kindly hand.

Suddenly her buff-colored cat jumped up and dashed over to the little bird and grabbed it in his mouth. I hurried over to inspect the situation: the poor bird’s head was in the cat’s mouth and its wings were flapping frantically trying to escape.

If the cat had injured the bird—like damaged a wing so it couldn’t fly— I would have left well enough alone. But the bird’s wings were obviously fine. And the cat was in a dilemma, too: as soon as he opened his mouth to deal with the bird, it would make good its escape.

You will know what a soft heart I have. I said, “Enough of this! We can’t have slaughter going on right before our eyes.” So I bent over the cat, grabbed its head, and pried its jaws apart. The bird, now released, flew to a nearby shrub and then off into the trees. A wiser bird for his close call.

The cat looked bewildered. Like, What just happened here? Where’s my lunch? Marilyn laughed and said, “He’s never had anyone do that to him before. I think you’ve offended him.”

“Well, too bad. I couldn’t bear to watch the slaughter,” I told her.

Later after a few minutes’ thought. I asked her, “Do you think God has to do that for us sometimes, too? We get ourselves hopelessly ensnared in some vice and He actually has to pry open the devil’s claws in order to set us free?”

And she answered, “Maybe He does.” It does seem that some folks are amazingly rescued from the most dangerous situations or pulled out of violent lifestyles.

When I got home I looked up that little bird in our bird book, and learned that it had the simple, descriptive name: “black and white warbler.” It’s a migratory bird here; we see them only passing through to the North country. I sure wonder why that one was so brave (or foolish) as to hang around our feet? And I’m glad that her cat didn’t win that battle.

Obedience Lessons

Caesar and the Sub

As usual, George didn’t bother with the buzzer at the main entrance, but walked around the corner of the apartment building to knock at the patio door of his grandson’s ground-floor suite. When he arrived he saw a huge dog staring at him through the glass. The great-whatever-it-was immediately announced his presence with resounding woofs.

Damien rushed to unlock the door. “Hey, Grandpa! Good to see you. Quiet, Caesar. This is a friend. FRIEND,” he repeated.

“I sure wouldn’t want to be a burglar trying to get in here with that brute waiting to devour me!” George stepped through the window into the living room area. “So this is your new hound?”

“Yeah, this is Caesar.” Damien ruffled the fur on the dog’s head. “Had him two weeks now and so far we’re getting along great. Really, his bark is worse than his bite.”

George chuckled. “I wouldn’t want to put that to the test. I won’t ever try sneaking in to surprise you.” He cautiously held out his hand to the dog and let Caesar sniff it. “Who sold you this beast?”

“A breeder south of town. His Great Dane had a litter, but some of the pups weren’t the purebreds he was expecting. Some other genetics got added to the mix at some point. He was rather dismayed about that, but gave me a good deal on this pup.”

“Yeah, I can see this isn’t a purebred anything.”

“I don’t care. I can tell already Caesar is going to be a faithful friend. When I take him for a walk, nobody’s going to hassle me. Anyway, Grandpa, sit down.”

George took a seat on the sofa and Caesar, with a happy grin, sat on the floor beside him. George reached out and gave the dog a cautious pat on the head. “So you’re going to trust me, are you, fella?”

Damien walked into the kitchen area and came back with a plate overflowing with a humongous submarine sandwich. “I was feeling hungry after our run through the park, so I was just fixing myself a sub. Do you want me to fix you one, too?”

“Sure,” George replied. “But make mine half that size. I don’t run through the park — or anywhere else — anymore.”

Damien grinned as he set his plate on the end table beside the recliner. “Yeah, I guess this would be pretty big for a lot of people. Ham, turkey, or both?” he asked as he headed back to the counter.

“Just turkey, thanks.” George watched Caesar walk over and sit beside the end table, his eyes focused on the sub. “You’d better hurry, Damien, or you won’t have a sandwich to come back to.”

Damien turned and saw Caesar sniffing toward the sandwich. “Oh, don’t worry about him. He’s well trained.” He quickly slapped together his grandfather’s sandwich, then opened the fridge door. “Do you want a drink with this, Grandpa? Cola or ginger ale, or iced tea?”

“Ginger ale would be fine.”

“Caesar and I have been going to obedience classes. We’re learning to communicate.”

“Obedience classes? Sounds like a great idea.”

“Yeah, we’ve had four lessons already. One thing he’s learned is not to touch any food until I say, ‘Nosh, Caesar.’ Then he knows it’s for him.” Damien grabbed pulled a can of pop from the fridge and shut the door.

George, who had his eyes on the dog, was amazed how fast Caesar devoured that sandwich once he heard the magic words.

“Uh, Damien… There was a little miscommunication here. I hope you still have enough fixings for another sandwich?”

Damien whirled around and saw his empty plate. He smacked his forehead with his hand. Caesar was looking up at him with eyes full of gratitude, his tail thump thumping on the floor. “Guess I can hardly blame him. I did give the command.”

George laughed. “It looks like he learned his lesson well. And now you have, too.”

“Yeah, I’ll remember this one,” Damien said ruefully as he reached for another sub bun.

🙂

Fandango’s one-word challenge for today: LESSON