Kittehzzelz and The Beast

It was a stunning morning. Cool without chill. Sunny without blaze. Perfect for a stroll, not just for business but for pleasure, too.

We walked past the Bobcat front loader at the end of the street. The Beast examined it with his snout and sprayed towards it with his leg lifted. We turned the corner.

The windows on the first floor apartment were open, letting in the day. They let out a tinny sound from a radio. I think it was smooth jazz.

We approached the end of the block, then what to our wondering eyes did appear? A Pokémon. In the wild.

Fortunately The Beast was nonplussed, even when it jumped up and down. Even when it was beating its wings. It was as if he didn’t see it. I held his lead tight as I captured the flapping bird. We were safe.

I don’t know much about our current infestation of these pocket monsters, except we’re supposed to catch them all. It didn’t appear, however, that The Beast would be of much use. I wondered whose side he was on. Still, I was grateful that he didn’t lunge at it as I really prefer my arms snug in my shoulder sockets.

We turned the corner heading toward the tracks. I did a mini face-palm when I realized I did not have any bribes–I mean treats–in my pocket. I usually put one in my hand as we approach where the train might appear. The damn dog can get downright ornery, barking and pulling and stepping on my feet and forcing me to step out of my shoes. The idea is to offer a treat as a distraction. Not that they do any good. It’s more so I feel like I can do something. It’s all an illusion.

We turned the next corner, heading closer to home. The walk had become blissfully uneventful. We walked past the treehouse where The Beast’s buddies lived. There was a panoply of water hazards in the yard: a small blow-up baby pool, a large blow-up big kids pool and a water table with little buckets, cups and spoons.There was a huge old tree that provided shade for the hazard takers. There were no hazard takers or dogs in sight, though.

We crossed the street to the house that has the huge side lot. The grass was freshly cut. It was cropped like Howie Long’s flattop, where it looks thick and lush for its exacting trim. I saw them first. The wild kittehzzelz.*

It was weird that my phone didn’t vibrate as we approached these mini-monsters. There were two kittehzzelz. One was gray and white and the other was orange. They were stretched out on the lawn enjoying the cool shade as it’d be a few hours before the sun made it over the house. As we approached, they flipped onto their bellies in unison. Their heads swiveled as one toward us. The Beast noticed these Pokémon in the wild. I knew because he was pulling me in their direction.

I planted my left leg as far away as I could and lunged or maybe lurched, literally dragging the dog. I gave a quick check to his collar. He took a step toward me. I decided to maintain speed and direction away from these creatures of interest. I didn’t have a tool to capture and dispose of them.

The Beast disagreed with me. He was trying to head to the kittehzzelz nest. I put my head down and squared my shoulder as I attempted a long stride away. He usually falls in line, but not this morning. Not only was he being civilly disobedient, but he was turned in the direction of opposition.

I yanked and dragged. He wasn’t budging. This was becoming very annoying. I tugged harder. So did he. He was intent on staying put. I turned around. I was shocked to see a crazy orange kittehzzelz almost nose to nose with the dog. The Beast was more curious than anything. Usually smaller creatures run away from his dangerous heft. Not this kittehzzelz. I’m like, is this thing rabid? Where’s its sense of danger? Then it happened.

The kittehzzelz was evolving from a medium sized ball of fluff to a more ferocious self. A kittehbobcat, maybe. It made itself much bigger. It changed its shape to increase it’s  girth by arching its  back. Its eyes were about twice the size of a minute ago. It spit, too.

I was all like, why the hell are you compelled to come up to my dog and get aggressive? I didn’t have a pokeball or anything–not even a treat–to throw at it. So I yelled at it. I was getting worried. I needed to get to work and I didn’t feel like pulling a vicious, rabid kittehbobcat off of my dog. And this vicious kittehbobcat sure seemed like it was ready to attack. Really. I am not making this up.

I threw my entire weight into pulling The Beast away from the mesmerizing monster. I dug my feet into the sidewalk to gain traction. I inched The Beast away, and the vicious kittehbobcat took two steps closer. Using my outside voice, I called it a mean cat. It spit again. The Beast let go of his protest and moved with me. He was still facing the vicious kittehbobcat, but at least he was now backing away. The kittehbobcat stood it’s ground and hissed and sprayed.

The Beast begrudgingly moved with me, but still had two eyes trained on the orange monster. I followed his gaze to see the vicious kittehbobcat turn, mockingly lift its tail and trot back to its companion. That one got away.

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* Loyal Reader, do NOT, tear apart your pokedeck trying to find this mythical creature. I think The Beast found the only one. Also, I made up this name.

Window Dressing

An image of the Andrew Wyeth painting, The Wind from the Sea.

It was likely still gray. Like the light when the night turns over to day, but before the sun does its shine thing. I was reluctantly awake.

That’s not really true. Reluctance is active. I was completely inactive. My state of waking was a passive occurrence. I wasn’t doing awake. I wasn’t encouraging awake. I just was. Mostly.

My eyes weren’t closed. Close is an action verb, too. I wasn’t acting. There were eyelids laying across my eyes. If I was thinking, I would have wondered about slipping back into that other state. Sleep. I could go either way, and, indeed, I was passing between these consciousnesses. I was given to repose.

The motor on the little fan whirred and then receded somewhere far away as I slipped back into sleep. The forced air rushed past my bare shoulder. I moved my hand from underneath my pillow and pulled the sheet up. It wasn’t a waking move as much as a reflex. My hand found its way back under the pillow and my mind back to a dreamscape.

My body warmed fast. Too fast, passing quickly through snug and stopping on roast. My left leg kicked off my blanket and sheet. I dangled my foot over the side of the bed. I raised my shoulder to let the sheet fall away and tucked my foot back under my covers. I cozied into the linens, wrapped with an ambient satisfaction from the thin sheet protecting me from the chilly air.

Temperature fully regulated, my mind left the room and joined a meadow or a garden or a house that I’ve never seen but I know is mine. Interrupted by a pressure drop. It’s my wakeup call. I’m roused enough to hit snooze before I lapse back to that other state. That latent state , where there is only one verb. Is.

Floats Like a Butterfly

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The sun was coming in from the east at a 30° angle. It palmed my arm with a pleasant, ambient heat, like the warmth from leaning on the radiator on a cold morning. It had just pulled the last chill from the air. The chill was gone, but you knew it was just gone.

The robin darted in front of us. Again. I keep looking for her nest. There must be a nest somewhere because she’s been buzzing us the past few weeks, distracting us from her treasure. She’s very good at the distracting because she has come at us from every direction. I thought her nest was in the eaves in the porch, but that was one of her tricks. I searched the hedges, but couldn’t find it. There’s been nests there before.

I’m thinking that it must be on the other side of the elephantine boxwood–the blob that has grown to overtake the west side of the front yard. Only the feral cats, the raccoons and maybe the hideous possums fit between the oversized shrubbery and the hedge that lines the fence. I hope that the cats don’t get to her babies. I know they definitely get to The Beast, getting inside his head and playing games with his hunter’s brain.

Our gardening is fairly God-driven. That is, whatever God puts there is there. We’ve worked over the years to pull up the invasive vines and in its place, the deity has left what resembles thick grass. She also deposited some small mounds of clover dotted with tiny yellow flowers. Somebody said these were weeds. They are beautiful.

This late spring morning the mounds are dappled with  water droplets. The mini globes reflect the sunshine. Some of some of them are prisms, displaying today’s lesson in the color spectrum. At first I think that The Beast is eating the greenery, but see that he’s browsing the surface of the leaves and petals, lapping up the dew as if it’s puppy nectar.

Just above his big brow, I see the movement of a butterfly. The wings open and close slowly, like a baby’s eyes as she’s ready to doze. The edges of the wings are lined charcoal black, like a magazine model’s smokey eye. Inside the frame is a paisley of bluish black, orange and brown, flecked with gold and pale yellow. The butterfly rises from his perch and floats above the dog’s nose and to the boxwood where it pauses, just for a second. In two more beats of its wings, he’s back and dancing around the head of The Beast who looks up and follows, disinterestedly, with one big brown eye before he returns to sup on the clover.

I follow the butterfly, too. I reach for my phone to capture the exchange but my pocket is empty. Relieved of my documentation duties, I am fully immersed in the slow opening and closing of the wings and the oddness of both floating and turning and abruptly changing directions at the same time.

The butterfly rises above the hedge and flies away.

Cuppa

Morning coffee in a big red mug surrounded by the morning paper.

The coffee has been a little thin. Not necessarily weak, but, if I were being truthful, I would admit that it was a bit weak, too.

The grind for French press is fairly coarse. You don’t want the coffee to be powdery, which leads to sludgy brew. Depending where you have it ground, sometimes it presents like the tiny pebbles in sand. Sometimes the bean fragments are smaller, more like pepper shards out of a loose pepper mill. I’ve not done a double-blind study, but it seems to taste better with the slightly finer, but not too fine, grind.

Making the coffee has a few steps that I approach more like washing a car than a tea ceremony. You’ll understand better in a minute.

First, you measure the coffee and put it in the pot. I have a huge scoop so I don’t have to count so much. Sometimes I can loose track of the scoops and then I either have to pour it out onto a plate and start over or say three Hail Mary’s while praying that there is enough. I never worry about too much, it’s only too little that would be the jolt. Or, more accurately, the anti-jolt.

Second, you add the water. I always used filtered water. Although that likely becomes much less relevant in month three and four of the two-month rated filter.

Back to the coffee. The water should be just below a boil. So, after the water reaches the boiling point you need to wait a bit as it cools. The wait can range between me chanting “one thousand one, one thousand two,” as I’m patiently standing next to the kettle, all the way up to to a few (ten? maybe 15?) minutes if I forgot that I started this project. That happens. Mostly on weekends, but sometimes during the week if I get involved with a first-thing-in-the-morning Buzzfeed quiz. Which Disney villain are you? or How many of these 90s songs can you name?

Sometimes I preheat the pot. This usually occurs when I realize that I didn’t wash it yesterday and I have to wash it for today’s coffee. I shake out the dregs, pour them down the sink and rinse the pot with hot water. Very hot water. That preheats the pot, as if by design.

Third is the timing. Those of you with a drip maker or a fancy machine are unconcerned with timing. Your appliances finish all by themselves. With the French press, your coffee floats around in the water to flavor it for an optimal interval. I think it’s four minutes. That’s my goal, anyway. Usually one of three things will occur. I will set the timer and respond at the ring, I will set the timer and ignore it because of some minor distraction, or, I will forget to set the timer and contort my brain to imagine the lapsed time. The timing is actually very important to the taste. I just don’t usually get it right.

Fourth is the plunge. This is pure technique. You need to corral all the floaty grinds under the mesh net and push them to the bottom of the pot. There is sometimes resistance–not always. It’s like an air bubble somehow forms and as you continue to push the plunger down, the pot burps and very hot liquid comes shooting out of the spout. I’m usually lucky and the spout is pointing away from me. Sometimes, though, I get it in the chest like someone yelling, Good morning!

I’m a little sloppy on the plunge so I usually take the first cup. This is the one with grinds that escaped the mesh and washed above the rubber seal when I was not paying any attention. When this happens, I am glad for the grind with the large chunks. You can more easily chase them around the rim of the cup and scoop them out with a spoon. When I’m very sloppy, I get the tea strainer and pour into another cup. When I’m very sloppy and very lazy, I just add milk and go about my business focusing on not focusing on the grains. I’ll spit out the gravel later. Or, if I don’t, I call it fiber.

The coffee I drank this gray morning was amazing. It was perfectly hot and a bit syrupy to balance the goodness of bitter. It was the earthy, composty Indonesian coffee that’s my favorite. It tastes of a little dirt and a little acid, flavored with what tastes of chocolate and maybe maple–or is that dark cherry?

Someone else plunged it this morning, though. Someone who is a much better scientist than I. Someone who made a beautiful cup of coffee for me this morning. No grains. No spills. Just love in a mug.

Now, THAT’S a good cup of coffee.

Tonal Morning

carillon bells. They are very big. And loud.

I stand in the front yard waiting for The Beast to accomplish what I thought he was set out to do based on his doleful whine at the front door. He was in no hurry.

It’s not really a cool morning. There’s the backdrop aura of a spring day, but it’s way in the back. In the fore is a damp start. We’re outside in between the rains as I expect it to begin raining again and it had clearly rained not too long before. There isn’t any bite or sting to the air and not really a chill, but some contact with the water vapor that is suspended in the air that is not as warm as the air itself.

The Beast continues to sniff around the yard. Based on his at-the-door antics, I’m a bit surprised that he is being so deliberate and particular. That’s how it goes.

I hear the bells from the church spire. I don’t know the time, so I count the verses. One, two, three. I wait for the fourth, but it’s done, signaling the third-quarter hour. Wheels are hissing on the pavement as cars go up and down Twelfth Street, kicking up the water on the asphalt and whistling it through the treads on the tires.

There are at least three different birds with three different songs in nature’s own Sensurround. One is puncturing the morning with staccato yips. The others are a more melodic greeting of the morning, The Beast and me.