Worry Not

Not too long ago, a friend of mine told me that I should write a self-help book. I don’t know where that idea came from, and I’m not sure what he was smoking at the time. Writing a self-help book seemed like the worst possible thing I could write. I’m not popular, I’m not rich, I’m not what one could call healthy, and I’m certainly not influential. So, I sort of put that idea in back closet of my mind.

Then, while making dinner one night, it occurred to me: I will never have to worry about botching my Oscar acceptance speech. That’s right. I will never have to worry about getting up in front of a bunch of people, making a speech, and then make mistakes by not thanking the correct people, or pronouncing names incorrectly. I’m not an actor or a director. I don’t have a job in Hollywood. I don’t have any ties to the industry.

Okay, that’s not strictly true. I mean, I did say that I met the partial cast of The State in McDonald’s, once. Although “met” is a pretty strong word for seeing them and talking (briefly) to one of them. I also went to school with Jane Krakowski, technically. True, I only ever saw her once (that I remember), and probably never talked to her. But I did date a woman who acted with her in some community theater plays. Oh, and I’m pretty sure I once saw Jonathan Frakes in a nearly empty Chili’s restaurant in Parsippany, NJ sometime between seasons 1 and 2 of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Some astute readers may remember that Parsippany was also mentioned in the film, The Karate Kid. Finally, and this is this is really stretching it, I might have seen Dick Cavett playing Zaxxon in a tiny arcade located in a small mall in Lafayette, La. in the mid-1980s. Why would Dick Cavett be in an arcade in Lafayette, La.? I don’t know. But if it wasn’t actually him, he could have made a killing as a Dick Cavett look-alike, if there were any call to have such a thing. He even sounded like him and I know this because after he lost his final ship he turned to me and said something about how neat the game was.

It was then, while putting my dinner together and being smug in the knowledge that I would never look like a fool on national television goofing up an Oscar acceptance speech that I realized I had the makings of a self-help book: Things You Probably Don’t Have To Worry About.

Instead of being fixated on things like: How am I going to pay the bills this month?, I think instead about how I don’t have to worry about the fuel pump on my Ferrari 328 going out. Okay, it’s not inconceivable that I could own a Ferrari 328, but it is incredibly unlikely. As I keep trying to point out to people, having enough money to buy an exotic sports car is a lot different than being able to afford to drive and maintain an exotic sports car. I don’t see it happening any time soon, though, so I think it’s safe enough to not worry about. And, even if I did end up getting one, I could just think about how I’ll never have to worry about replacing the tires on a Ferrari 288 GTO.

There’s a near infinite amount of things I don’t have to worry about. Like, being old, overweight, and not named William Shatner, my chances of going into space are near infinitesimal so I’ll never have to worry about running out of oxygen in my space suit.

I’ll never have to worry about the trials and tribulations of being married to a super model or taking care of a 28 room mansion. I’ll never have to worry about being abducted by aliens.

Probably. I mean, it’s probably a pretty slim chance that aliens will come around to pick me up. I think I’ve already said how I feel about aliens. Maybe. Either way, I think it’s unlikely so I won’t worry about it.

Like I said, there’s oodles of things I don’t have to worry about, which is a big break from all the things I feel like I should worry about. And there’s no reason why you can’t do the same thing, when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

I may be willing to worry a little bit…
By CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK – Flickr: DVF ss14-5, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39469794

The Big City

If you’re fairly young and reading this (and I have to ask ‘why?’), I hope you get something from these writings. One of the things I would hope you do you get is the sense that you shouldn’t waste an opportunity. If life throws something good at you, grab it and use it for all it’s worth; don’t think, “Ah, well, there’s always tomorrow,” because sometimes there isn’t. Or you keep pushing it off until the tomorrows run out. I’d ask you to trust me on that, but, who am I, besides some rando on the Internet?

I used to work in New York City. Manhattan, in fact. I didn’t live there, though, so the experience wasn’t all it could have been. Mostly because I commuted and lived pretty far away. Relying on public transportation also meant that I had to do things on their (the public transportation people) schedule, which was not flexible.

The commute to work wasn’t too bad, although it was long. A lot of people in New Jersey work in NYC, so the train I took stopped at every conceivable stop along the way. I don’t remember exactly when it left my station (which was the beginning and end of the route), but it was somewhere between 5:00am and 6:00am, I think. After the long train ride, I took the PATH train from Hoboken to either the 23rd or 33rd street stations. Once there, it was a jaunt on the subway to a station closer to where I worked, whereupon I would hoof it the rest of the way.

The first job I worked at had a place on the way that sold bagels and coffee in the morning. On the way in I would always grab a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and an extra large hazelnut coffee. When I say “cream cheese,” I don’t mean they took a dab and shmeared it around with a knife. I mean they used a knife to cut a half-inch slab off a block of cream cheese and slapped it between the two toasted halves of the bagel. It was glorious.


I didn’t have any co-workers at that job, really. I was basically on my own. There was a McDonald’s right on the corner, so I almost always went there for lunch. I also ordered the same thing. Every day. If that’s not a waste of being in Manhattan, I don’t know what is. But, it was easy, it was mostly quick, so it was done and done.

Not that it didn’t have its advantages. There were times when I would walk through the door on a busy day and see a cashier waving a bag over their head and gesturing me up to the front of the line. Or the times when the manager would give me my lunch for free if I filled out a survey. Or the time when I was standing on line and looked to the left of me and saw the cast of The State. I even talked to Joe Lo Truglio (I think) for a moment, telling him I really liked the show, but MTV was making it difficult to watch because they kept changing the time slot. He agreed, saying they weren’t happy about it either. And that was that. My brush with fame.

Actually, it wasn’t the entire cast, just about five or so. I think.

I think the most exciting thing I did, at that time, was see Nine Inch Nails at Madison Square Garden, which was right down the street from where I worked. I didn’t have to worry about getting home, because the group of us threw in money for a limo ride home.

And that, really, was the biggest problem I had: NJ Transit stopped train service relatively early in the evening, so going out with friends just wasn’t possible. I didn’t live where there was bus service, so that, too, was out.

The second job I had was less exciting. There were no good bagel places on the way there. There was no McDonald’s nearby. I don’t actually remember what I did for lunch there. I don’t even remember there being a cafeteria. I do remember that my boss took me out to lunch at a nearby strip club, once. I didn’t make a habit of it, though.

So, you know I pretty well wasted my time being in New York City five days a week. I haven’t really gone into much that would make it seem exciting, and that’s because it mostly wasn’t. True, I was on two trains that had minor derailments. Also, I’d been stuck on the tracks for hours because the coolant fell out of the engine. Stuff like that.

There is one thing I really miss, though. I’ll use the moment to say that I wish I had brought a camera with me, every day, and I will never knock someone for taking oodles of pictures on their phone. When waiting for the train home, I would sometimes walk around Hoboken. Sometimes, during the winter, I would step outside the station and look at New York from across the river. The Empire State building was prominent, sometimes lit up in special colors for different occasions, reflected on the water.

I had read the book, Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin, while riding the train. In it, Helprin mentions Hoboken and a place called the Clam Broth House. During one of my walks around the town, I saw it. A lit up sign for the Clam Broth House. I thought it was made up, for the book, but it was a real place. I always wanted to go in, just to see what it was like. But I never did.

And that’s me, really. I got into photography late. I wrote a lot, but not about things that I was doing or feeling at the time. There were a lot of things I wanted to do, but never got around to it. I regret it. Regretting things late in life is a terrible thing.

Video Game Excitement

I don’t remember the first video game that I played. I think my earliest memory of playing anything was Space Invaders. It was, I think, in a pizza parlor in Denton, TX. If I remember right (which I probably don’t), there was also an Atari Football game, as well. One other thing I remember, was that the place sold a pizza called “The Wagon Wheel.” It was an enormous pizza, at least to a kid about ten years old.

Like I said, though, it was a long time ago and I’m somewhat sure I’m not remembering it correctly. Or in the wrong place. Or something. I don’t really remember video games being all that important to me at that particular moment. Maybe I was already past Space Invaders? I don’t know.

We used to go to Seaside Heights fairly frequently. There were several arcades, there. It seems they never got rid of stuff, either, because I would find the newest games spread out across the different arcades, as well as old games that most people wouldn’t remember. Like Stunt Cycle. Or Maneater.

Not only did they have video games, but they had mechanical games that were the precursors of video games. Games where you drove a car on a stick on a roadway that was belt driven. Or shooting gallery games. Or Skee-Ball.

When our sister would go there with our dad, we’d walk over to, I think, the Casino Pier. I will always remember the smell of salty air and tar on the piers during a hot day. Anyway, the Casino Pier had a carasoul, there, along with arcade machines and Skee-Ball, along with a lot of other things, I think. Also there was a lunch counter. Dad would make us sit there and eat something before letting us go all higgeldy-piggeldy around the place. He wouldn’t let us eat funnel cakes, which smelled really good amid the hot tar, but we could get a hot dog or hamburger at the lunch counter. It’s strange to think that, back then, it took effort to get me to eat something, but I was all fired up to have a go at the games.

I don’t think my sister ever understood the attraction. She asked me, once, what was so great about video games. She was a Skee-Ball girl, though. She’d spend a lot of time racking up points and getting tickets. She thought that was better, because she could take all her tickets and redeem them for something. Like, glow in the dark vampire teeth. Or rubber balls that would bounce higher than a house.

It’s been too long for me to remember, exactly, what I told her and I probably didn’t articulate it very well. Honestly, I probably called her stupid or left it at a lame “it’s fun” kind of explanation. In her eyes, her dimes gave her entertainment and something physical to take home, where my quarters got

But what arcade games gave me was a chance to be something I never would be: a hero. At the arcade, I was repelling alien invaders. I was catching Old Western outlaws (well, shooting them). I was a race car driver, a jungle explorer, a mouse cop catching robbers, Popeye, a chef making hamburgers and keeping the world safe from psychotic pickles.

Were those experiences worth more than a set of glow in the dark vampire fangs? Yeah, to me, they were. I’ve never been any of those things in real life, except, maybe, the last thing. You can never tell with pickles, just by looking at them.

As I got older, arcades became more prevalent and also became more important, socially. Friends would show up and we would hang out. There were times when I would walk four or five miles to an arcade. If nobody I knew was there, that was all right because I could just play games. Then I would call my dad to come pick me up, which, surprisingly, he was never happy about. You’d think he’d be glad that I got the exercise.

When I was old enough to have a driver’s license we’d go more frequently. After work, we’d head to the arcade for a while then go to a diner and get a late night breakfast. These were probably the best days of my life.

A lot of people talk about the games from back then. To me, one of the best things was walking into an arcade, which were usually dimly lit, and I would stand at the entrance waiting for my eyes to adjust to the light and I could listen and tell what games were there by the sounds. I think of all the things I miss about arcades, the sounds are at the top. A cacophony of Pac-Man, Defender, Jackal, Operation: Wolf, and so many others.

It’s strange that now, with a disposable income and ready transportation, I don’t make use of the arcades that around me now (and there are several). But I guess that’s part of the curse of getting old.

Happy New Year 2023

This was the post that was going to say that I was going to post something every day for a year. Again. Because I keep saying that. This year, it’s even better because I missed the first day.

It’s pretty obvious, then, that it’s not going to be an every day thing. I think I’m going to try something different, though. I think I’ll actually write about myself. Because I know you’re all absolutely dying to know more about me.

The first thing you should know (because it influences almost everything that goes on in my life) is that I have a hard time making up my mind about things. It’s what turns a fifteen minute shopping trip into a two hour ordeal. That is not hyperbole. I’m sure there are people who are really happy that laundry detergent comes in twenty different fragrances, but I’m not one of them.

When I’ve got too many choices, I tend to shut down. I get overloaded in decisions so I just give up. What does this have to do with writing a blog? It’s like this: I love my Mac Mini, so I try to use it to write as much as I can. But, I like the mechanical keyboard on my Windows computer, so I think I should do my blogs on that. But, Haiku (if you don’t know what Haiku is, that’s OK; you’ll find out, soon) just got a web browser that works with WordPress, and I have mechanical keyboards for both of my computers that run Haiku, so I feel like I should use that, because it’s been a long time since I could. Worse, one of the Haiku computers is an Atari and it’s been forever since I could write a blog post on an Atari computer (which is also a console; if you don’t know what the Atari VCS is, don’t worry).

And I can’t make up my mind, so I stop and figure I’ll pick it up later and write something. I never do, though, because trying to figure out what I want to use just keeps looping, so nothing gets done.

If I’m trying to do this more frequently, though, then I think I can figure out a time sharing schedule for it. That should fix it.

That’s not counting all the times I think, “Do I want to write a blog entry? Do I want to play a game? On the game computer? On the VCS? Do I want to read a book? Watch TV? Teach myself Unity? Teach myself how to use Inkscape? Re-learn C++? Oh, so many things to do.

Maybe I can make a resolution to have less brain-lock when it comes to making decisions and deciding what I want to do.

We’ll get started with the rest of the junk in a day or two. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, here are some cats


It’s been a while, I know. I haven’t felt the urge or desire to write anything, lately. Even now, I’m forcing myself to write this and trying hard not to just close the window and forget about it. One thing that is really helping is that, if I don’t write this, then I have to do house cleaning.

I’m sure a lot of people are wondering about the cats. Angel is doing fine and her eye has cleared up quite a lot. She and Nazboo get along quite fine, and do a lot of chasing and playing early in the day. Nazboo is a vocal cat, though, so the playing sounds like a major battle is going on.

Ms. Squeaks has decided to come indoors. She’s been coming in quite often to eat because, I think, she’d rather share her canned food with one kitten rather than six. Then she acts like she wants to go out again, so I open the door for her. She stands at the door, sticking her head out, realizes it’s cold, then goes back inside and curls up on the rug under the coffee table. Often for hours. Several times she’s stayed over night. I’m okay with this, all as three cats seem to get along all right.

Mother & Daughter

I always worry about cold weather and the youngest kittens, though. Currently, there are two that stay in either the Fusion or the Challenger. I’m not sure how they decide which car to sleep in, but I invariably manage to choose the one their in when it’s time to go shopping.

Unfortunately, the rest of what I have to say isn’t all that great. We’re heading into the holiday season, and that’s never been a good time for me. This year, I lost my mother and that’s just going to make things… Maybe not worse, but certainly not better. Her passing is also the major reason why I haven’t been bothering to write, since she was 50% of my known fanbase.

Because it’s November, though, I attempted to start a novel. It lasted three days before I just plain forgot to keep writing. I think it’s pretty clear I’m not a writer at this point.

I’m not a photographer, either. I can’t even remember the last time I took the camera and went somewhere. It’s probably been over a year, if not two.

Well, I wrote something and I reckon that’s good enough.

May: Feral Wonders

Last month, the big news was the kittens being born. Ms. Squeaks never trotted them out for me to see, so I had to steal glances when I could. I knew where they were, but I wasn’t going to let on, because I didn’t want her to move them again. At least, not because of me. At one point, I had to cut the grass, but I made sure I left a large enough space of tall grass (and weeds) so they’d still have a hiding spot.

About six weeks went by. I saw the kittens fairly regularly by that time. They would be running around and playing in the tall grass. The “helper” cat was usually around them. Ms. Squeaks would be doing her thing, lounging on the patio.

Before I go on, I should say a few things about Ms. Squeaks. When she first came around the property, she was a horribly skinny thing. She always glared at me from a distance. She also seemed to have a hard time eating the dry cat food: taking a few bites, looking like it was difficult to chew, and then leaving it alone.

So, I, being the soft hearted guy I am, started feeding her one can of wet food a day. This bridged the gap between us. She started to enjoy getting her head scratched. And, unfortunately, she would start scratching at her in a big way. The kind of way where she would growl as she really dug in there.

This worried me, and I always wished I could get a vet to do a house call. I would have tried to get her in a carrier, but I didn’t want to stress her out, as feral cats tend to be when confined. So I let it go, and felt bad.

During this time, she developed a kind of relationship with Nazboo, the indoor cat. I would open the front door and she would stare inside, until she saw him. Then she’d get close to the door and the two would boop noses together. And then they would both turn around and that would be that. Later, the nose booping would turn to her giving him affectionate looking head butts. She went from never entering the house (except once, when she took a tour of the entire place), to coming inside long enough to rub against Nazboo. Who would then look at me, like had no idea of what was going on.

So, these cats aren’t strays, as they tend to stay on my property or my noisy next door neighbor’s property. But they aren’t house cats so, to my mind, that makes them feral. Especially since it takes a lot of time and effort to work up a trust. As an example, the helper cat still does not like to get close to me, even though he now shares wet food with Ms. Squeaks. But, I also think it’s not its job to be friendly. It’s there to make sure the kittens are safe when Squeaks is otherwise engaged.

Helper Cat, not looking friendly

One morning, then, when I was leaving to go grocery shopping, I was surprised to see Squeaks, the helper cat, and a tiny kitten on the porch. I looked at the kitten, and it looked like it’s eyes were stuck shut. I didn’t think that was normal, since the others had big, wide eyes, that stared at me from beyond the grass line.

Afflicted Kitten

So, again, me being me, I start calling veterinarians. I started with the closest ones and was told there was no availability, but I could make an appointment for one to two weeks out. I didn’t think that would cut it. One suggested I bring it to an animal shelter. I didn’t that would be good, either. Finally, I found a place about an hour away. I explained the situation to them and they said, “Hey, bring it in. I’ll give the doctors a heads up.”

Relieved, I went and got the carrier and brought it outside. I opened the front door and went to grab the kitten. She was a feisty one, but not being able to see gave me a slight advantage. She would still wriggle a lot and get loose. Being afraid of hurting her, I held her low to the ground and didn’t grip to hard, so that wasn’t getting me anywhere. I opened the top of the carrier, reasoning that I could let her drop into it and she’d be okay, since, well, she was a cat, but I also had padding in there. So I scooped her up, let her wriggle her way out of my hands and right into the carrier. I closed the top and started to close the front, when Ms. Squeaks walked right on in to the carrier. She nudged the kitten a bit, then laid down next to her.

I was surprised, but not surprised enough to look a gift horse in the mouth. I closed the front of the carrier and carried it to the car. Surprisingly, Ms. Squeaks didn’t panic. She seemed interested in the ride, and would nuzzle the kitten when she started getting squirmy.

Even at the vet’s, she didn’t seem at all disturbed. She just laid there, taking it all in. I was told it would be about two hours and they brought the carrier into the back. I didn’t see the sense in leaving, since it would be an hour going home, anyway. So I hung around.

In the end, it took four hours. I don’t blame the clinic, though. I saw it go from nothing going on, to all kind of emergencies happening at once. I know they were busy at times. The end result was, everyone was impressed with Ms. Squeaks behavior. And she got a clean bill of health, aside from some ear mites. There’s nothing wrong with her teeth or jaws, so it just might be that she doesn’t like dry food.

The kitten was a bit more dire. A bad eye infection. They sent me home with eye drops and antibiotics. I hope to God I did the eye drops correctly.

Anyway, I got them home and Squeaks took off to tend to her other kids, while I took the kitten inside. I didn’t really know what to do with her. I couldn’t let her run loose because her eye infection could have been transferred. I couldn’t keep her in the carrier all night. In the end, I took a spare room and put some cat toys in there and cleaned it up of the more dangerous things. I went to the store and got a small litter box and some kitten sized bowls and set them all up for her.

Her medicine required me seeing her at least every eight hours, but I tried to drop in more than that. Not that it mattered. The girl would wedge herself behind a box and not come out. To give her the meds, I had to move a giant box and pick her up. Then I put it back so she’d have a place to feel safe.

A Safe Space

I also felt that it would be nice if Ms. Squeaks would visit. That way, they would both know that the other was still around. Getting Ms. Squeaks inside wasn’t that difficult. I opened the door, she strolled in and started calling for her kitten. I led her to the door of the room and opened it and the two met, somewhat happily, I think. Maybe too happily, because momma tried to walk out with her kitten.

Mom and Daughter breakfast

Eventually we all got the hang of it, until I made the mistake of feeding Ms. Squeaks her canned food in the kitten room. I thought it was also a good idea, because it would show the kitten what could be eaten, which included the canned food and the kitten dry food I had gotten, because Ms. Squeaks is a voracious eater. What started with having the two cats have their head in the same bowl, eating the same food, turned into momma cat eating the food and the kitten trying to nurse on Squeaks.

Besides, that, though, the kitten opened up. She would start coming out of hiding when I opened the door. She’d play with me as I tossed various toys around. By the end of the week, I had become a human playground for her to crawl all over and bite.

At one point, I bought a new bed for her and Nazboo. Same bed, slightly different colors. I’m happy to say that they both use their new beds. It’s always satisfying when that happens.

Nazboo and Angel (the kitten) don’t interact. Most of it is because I keep them apart, on account of the eye infection. There was one time, though, early in the week, Angel ended up underneath the futon in the living room. I was trying to get her out, when Nazboo showed up behind me. Angel, I guess on seeing another cat, ran out from under the futon and right at Nazboo, who was surprised by this little missile. He jumped and hissed. And this started the falling apart of Ms. Squeaks and Nazboo’s relationship. They no longer have a friendly thing going.

In other news, as of yesterday, the kitten has been bolting out of her room when I open the door. She gets out of the room, and walks around for a little bit. This morning, she saw Nazboo and walked towards him. Nazboo… ran away. Angel took a few hesitant steps toward him again, but he hissed at her and tried to run into his ‘jungle gym’. This frightened Angel enough to send her running to her room. Poor thing. She hasn’t tried to leave it, except for maybe a foot outside the door, since then.

In a few days, Angel goes back to the clinic. Hopefully, we’ll find out if she’s still contagious or not. I’m also hoping that something can still be done about her right eye, which hasn’t healed as well as the left. Then, I have to decide what to do with her.

April: Baby Showers

Due to personal issues, I wasn’t able to post this the other day. So you’re getting it now. Isn’t that exciting? Of course it is.

Animal Farm

It seems like a long time ago that I found the expired opossum. I’m happy to say that another one has moved in. I guess. It’s entirely possible that the dead one was just passing through. I don’t know. Maybe I should start tagging these critters. Anyway, there’s still an opossum around, and that makes me happy for some reason.

The big news, of course, is that Ms. Squeaks had her babies. She’s allowed me to see them once, so far.

You can see ’em if you look close

I’m a little insulted that she hasn’t trotted them out for me to see, but I guess that is a prerogative of motherhood to let people poke at your babies. They were born on April 5th, so they’re almost at a month old.

The poofy looking cat has been spending a lot of time around here. If I’m outside for a while and not moving, it will come kind of close but even looking at it will send it running off to get some distance. Unless I open the blinds. Then the thing will run from wherever it is to the window and try and look inside. Drives me nuts.

I haven’t wanted to cut the grass in the area of the newborns, so it’s looking pretty wild. God only knows what else is living in that mess.

June bugs have started terrorizing the populace. Every morning, the patio is covered in dead or dying June bugs. I don’t know much about them, other than they fly around and die. Thankfully, the neighbor’s chickens have been coming by and Hoovering them up. By early evening, they’re just about all gone. Well, that’s how it had been working. For some reason, the chickens did not come by the last couple of days.

Internal Decisions

I haven’t done anything about the leaking sink, yet. Things have gotten complicated, in general. But I hope to get that fixed soon. I could try to figure it out myself, but I would prefer it to be done correctly.

However, I did finally buy a bed. All by myself. I’m quite proud of that and am now feeling as if I can conquer the living room furniture, too.

In addition to the bed, I made some changes with smart light bulbs and created a HomeKit scene where saying, “Hey Siri, it’s sexy time” will cause the lights to come on, turn red, and put a Barry White song. I’d upload a video, but my freebie plan doesn’t allow it. It’s really neat. Too bad nobody will ever see it.

Not really my bed

Also, the cat likes it. So, there’s that.

Life In The Kitchen

Oh, food. Last month I was really bad at keeping track of what I was making, so I’m not really sure how many interesting things I’ve made. The only thing that really stands out to me is something called “Swiss Chicken Casserole.” This is supposed to be four chicken breasts, covered with Swiss cheese, then covered with stuffing. I cut up the chicken breasts this time around and liked it a lot more than when I made it using the breasts whole.

I’ll try and keep track better in May. Maybe even start sharing the recipes that I use.

That pretty much wraps it up for April. Hopefully, this month, I can get some pictures of the new kittens.

March 2022: A Mold Runs Through It

Spring is here. The trees are flowering, the flowers are blooming, and the bees are making it difficult to walk past the porch. The weather has been, well, mostly nice, I guess. Except for the day when five tornados went whizzing around. And the night when the wind really picked up. But, in general, it’s nice during the day and cold at night.

Where The Wild Things Was
One night I was looking out the window and saw the opossum eating. I liked watching it. It was almost zen. I knew that, afterwards, it would drink some water then wash its face and, afterwards, trundle off to where it was that opossums go after a fine meal. So I didn’t watch it finish, as I had things to do. I’m a busy man. Stuff needs to be done. I lowered the blinds and did my thing.

The next morning, while I was pouring my first cup of coffee, I realized I was standing in a puddle. I opened the doors below the sink and found a lot of water. And a lot of mold. It wasn’t the best way to start a Sunday, I thought. After I got the first coffee down, I decided to take a good look at what I was dealing with. I turned on the lights and then opened the blinds to the closest window.

Something caught my eye. I looked down at the grass and saw the opossum, laying there, almost curled into a ball. It looked kind of dead. But, you know, opossums play dead. They’re famous for it. “Maybe,” I thought, “it got frightened of something last night and now it’s playing dead.” I decided to investigate the sink, then check again in a few minutes.

I couldn’t see anything immediately wrong with the plumbing. There was no water streaming out of anything. I placed a pan under it and left it to check on the opossum. It was still laying there. “That’s an awfully long time to play dead,” I thought.

So I told my mother about it. She suggested calling various wildlife places because those types of people liked to check dead possums for babies. After some false starts, we found a place. But they wouldn’t send someone out to check and haul away the body. No, I was told that I could go out there and check the dead body for a pouch and babies. Or, if I didn’t want to do that, I could put it in a box and bring it them.

If you know anything about me, you know I get really attached to animals. Even ones that aren’t, strictly speaking, mine. It’s more than attachment, though. Sometimes I feel as if I owe the animal something. For instance, I started putting food out for the cats, not because I wanted to attract every feral animal for miles around to my patio, but because I felt an “offering” was due since I presumed the one black cat (at the time) was doing his due diligence and keeping rodents and stuff off the property.

I looked down at the opossum. The first thing I thought, then, was that it couldn’t be dead because I had seen it just last night. It looked fine! The picture of health! I hoped that when I touched it, it would spring to life and hiss at me. But it didn’t. As soon as I touched the little body, I knew that it had shuffled off this mortal coil quite some time ago. It probably ate, drank, washed its little face, then started to walk back home. Maybe, then, it felt very tired and thought to curl up and take a short nap, before continuing on to its den. If they have dens. And it never woke up.

I felt, at that moment, it deserved something more than being tossed into my neighbors yard. I knelt down, picked it up, and placed it as carefully as I could in a box. Then I put the box in the trunk of a car. Because I was still hoping, in vain, that it would wake up. And if it did, I did not want to be locked in a moving two ton metal box with a confused and wildly hissing opossum.

To wrap up a long story, I drove it to the wildlife place. They told me that the opossum was male, so no babies. Gave me a description of his condition, because I asked for a possible cause of death. When it’s dark at night, I feel it’s a good idea to know what kind of deadly things may be roaming around. They were very nice and probably didn’t understand why this large man seemed very sad at the passing of a wild possum.

In other news, the cats seem to be doing fine. Ms Squeaks looks more and more with child. She still loves her head scratches and is sure she gets them, at least once a day. Several times she looked like she wanted to come in, and I’m fine with that. When it was freezing cold during the nights, I tried to coax her inside once. She wasn’t having it, though. Lately she stands at the door and will poke her head and, maybe a paw, inside but then quickly turns around.

The two grayish cats only come by occasionally since it started warming up. Poofball cat, though, is here pretty frequently and has finally stopped running away when I go outside. Now it just sits there and glares at me, much like how Ms Squeaks used to do. There’s also a new cat I’ve only seen twice. It’s white with a gray face. There’s also the black and white cat (with a heart on its side) that comes around in the evenings. So, still full up on cats.

My neighbor got a surprise, though. One day he didn’t close his gate in a timely manner and ended up with a stray horse in his yard. He had to call the sheriff’s office and have them try and figure out where it came from. They came by the next day and picked it up.

Oh. And then there was the spider. I opened the blinds to look to see who was lounging on the patio and a small, furry, black spider with a white dot dropped in front of me. I went and got my Spider Container and came back. It fell to the floor, so I lowered the container and the thing practically jumped into it. I closed it, walked out into the yard further than I did last time, and dropped it off. I’m almost certain it’s the same spider I had to get off my monitor a few weeks ago. I expect it’ll show up again, because I saw it on the patio the other day.

I guess that’s it. I don’t remember too much else going on. Just been busy. And now I need to be busier because the grass is growing out there. Time for lawn maintenance and all that. Maybe it would be easier just to buy some sheep or goats or something.

January 2022 – New Year (Eats & Cats)

Hey there! It’s a new year. So, let’s have a look at how the first month has gone.

Entropy Acres – The kittens look to be doing well. They’re usually out in the evening, playing on the patio. They’re getting big, as kittens do. White cat is still around. Black cat comes around, sometimes, but he ain’t happy by all the extra cats. He doesn’t even want the head scratches anymore. The gray cat used to watch over the kittens, but she (I assume) has been distant lately, disappearing for days at a time and only showing up to eat. There’s been another cat, a black and white one. It’s so skittish that, if I look out the window at it, it takes off. The most amusing thing, though, was when it was chilly outside and I was trying to entice the kittens to come in. They weren’t having it, though. Just then, a big opossum walked right in front of me, trundling off to do whatever it is opossums do at night.

This morning was pretty good, though. Ms. Squeaks, the kittens, and Black cat all came running towards me. The food bowls were both empty. But the Black cat didn’t bother the kittens, so that’s all right.

Kitchen Entropy – I haven’t been doing much exciting, food-wise. Mostly, I’ve just been making soups that will last for a few days. They’re easy (throw stuff in boiling water) and good for cold weather.

If you know anything about me, though, is that I like to watch old TV shows and if an old TV mentions some sort of food I’ve never had, then I feel like I have to make it. I watched an old episode of The Bob Newhart Show where Bob, Howard, and Jerry get drunk and order Moo Goo Gai Pan. I’ve never had Moo Goo Gai Pan. Also, I can no longer get Chinese food delivered here.

Moo Goo Me!

So I made it. It was really good and I have to wonder why I’ve never ordered it before. Or, maybe I did but I don’t remember doing so? I don’t know. Either way, I can make it myself if I want it so badly. I still haven’t gotten around to figuring out how to make fried rice, though. Also, I may need to get a wok some day.

For the most part, I try and stay away from things that are complicated. They tend to increase my prep time (something that claims to take 15 minutes will take me two hours), and cleaning time. But, sometimes you see something you just gotta have. Especially when the temperature outside is about to plummet, again.

So I made chili colorado con carne. It’s not terribly complicated, it just involved buying dried chiles on the Internet (there weren’t any local) and then liquefying them in a blender or food processor. Somehow, the forty minute prep time turned into three hours. Actually, I’m going to blame a part of that on my stove because one of the burners is stuck on “Hellfire.”

Picture of chili Colorado con carne, a hearty stew
It’s a hearty stew

It’s quite filling, and I recommend making it for those cold wintery months.

And that pretty much wraps it up for January. Nothing written (except this). No photos, except for food. Nothing major going on, so that’s about it.

NaNoWriMo 2021 (Day 11: 4,605/50,000)

It’s been a few days, hasn’t it? I’m afraid that’s my fault. My sleep schedule has been blown wildly off course the last few days, including that one night I fell asleep at 6pm and woke up around midnight. I’ve still been writing, I just haven’t been updating the blog here. Which is going to cause me some issues in a few minutes while I try and remember where I was at.

Not surprisingly, I ran out of ideas for who should get the pen next, so I had to switch to my “B” roll. This is a re-do of a story that a friend of mine asked for and that I wrote part of, if I remember right. The strange thing is, neither of us has any part of that story. And I’ve looked through a mountain of old USB keys, external hard drives, and internal hard drives, not to mention scouring old, old emails.

So, let’s see where we got for that adventurous pen.

Norm wiggled his beer bottle. “You want another?”

“Naw,” said Lenny. “I got to get back home and I’ll end up missing the last train if I don’t head out.”

“All right, buddy. See you tomorrow.”

Lenny hauled himself out of the booth and out the bar door onto the city street. It was fully night but lights from the shops and street lamps kept things bright. It was a little chilly and Lenny breathed the night air in. Maybe his job was in jeopardy, maybe it wasn’t, but right now he was glad he was where he was. He always felt the city got a little more magical the cooler the weather turned. 

He took a seat and watched out the window as people moved about doing their things. It seemed odd to him, right at the moment, that there were millions of people, all living their own lives even if he knew nothing about them. It almost seemed easier to believe that they stopped existing once they left his field of view. Lenny wondered, then, if that was some sort of mental illness and if there was a psychiatric term for it. There probably was. 

The train next to his started to move out and he could see more of the station. There was a coffee shop there that he hadn’t noticed before. It wasn’t very crowded right now, but there were a couple of people sitting at a counter. The place wasn’t very big and that was about all that could fit in there, but there were some tables and chairs set outside of it. An outdoor cafe in an indoor train station. Lenny decided that he would have to stop there, at least once. Maybe the next time his train was late, which happened fairly often.

A man came through the train door and dropped a briefcase, a newspaper, and a candy bar on the seat in front of Lenny. Then he sat down opposite of him. Then he stood up again and took off his London Fog trenchcoat and placed it over his things. He sat down again. For a moment, he looked like he was thinking of standing up again but decided he didn’t need to. He was situated, as they say.

Reaching under his coat, he pulled out the briefcase and placed it on top of the coat. He flipped the two latches and opened it, pulling out some papers and a pen. Then he closed the briefcase and put it on his lap and used it as a desk, reading through the papers and marking things down with his pen.

To Lenny, he seemed a bit disorganized and flustered, as if that was his normal state of being. The train started to pull out of the station and he looked out the window again, watching the coffee shop disappear beyond his sight. Leaving the station, the buildings of the city could be seen again, towers of light reaching the heights of darkness. Eventually, they, too, would be left behind and the train would move through darkness.

Lenny stared out the window for the most part, aside from handing his ticket to the conductor. The trip was mostly dark, but every once in a while it passed through some town or another and lights could be seen. The train slowed down a bit during these crossings and Lenny was able to see some of the houses or shops, if it passed right through the town. He thought that he should get in the car one day and drive to these towns and check out the shops or restaurants, just to do something different. He wouldn’t, though. It was one of those things he’d think about, but never do. He wasn’t sure why; it wasn’t like he had a family chaining him down to his apartment. He was free to come and go as he chose. Not having a family also meant being able to afford jaunts like that. He sighed heavily. One day. Before he died.

He noticed, then, that his seat mate was writing on a form and then shaking his pen vigorously and looking at it as if it offended him. Then he’d try writing again and do the shaking routine. Finally, he opened the case part way and tossed the pen in there and then shuffled things around, probably looking for another pen. He looked up at Lenny.

“Say,” he said, “could I borrow your pen?”

“I don’t have a –“, he started. Then he patted his shirt pocket and remembered the pen from the bar. “Oh, yeah. Sure.” He handed the pen over to the mousey man.

The man took it and looked at the chain curiously.

“You have a thing against banks?”

“Uh, no, why?”

“Looks like this was taken from a bank. From one of those little tables they’re usually chained to.”

“Oh. I don’t know, I picked it up at a bar.”

“Well, someone liberated this fellow. His compadres are probably jealous of this guy’s freedom, wondering what he’s been up to and what he’s doing.”

Lenny looked at him and wondered if the guy was a few floors short of a skyscaper or just overly imaginative. “No doubt,” he said. “That pen probably can’t believe its luck, having seen things very few bank pens get to see.”

“It must have been very excited; it peed in your pocket.”

Lenny looked down at his shirt pocket and saw a black blob of ink at the bottom of his pocket. “Son of a…”

“Don’t blame the pen. He probably couldn’t contain himself. And it still writes, so that’s good luck.”

“Good luck, yeah,” said Lenny, not really seeing any good luck.

His seat mate went back to writing on forms. Every once in a while he’d stop and think about something, and twirl the pen around causing the short chain to whirl around like a helicopter blade. Lenny went back to staring out the window and wonder what he was doing with his life.

Soon enough, the familiar sights of his home started appearing. His stop would be up soon. He put his satchel in his lap and waited for the train to start slowing down.

The fellow across from his noticed this.

“Do you want your pen back?” he asked.

“No,” said Lenny. “You should keep it. If it comes with me, its days of adventuring will be over and it’ll be stuck in a drawer.”

The man laughed. “I’ll try and keep the legacy going, then. Have a good night.”

“Yeah, you too.”

Clem stepped down off the train car. It was late, it was dark, there was a slight chill in the air, and there weren’t a lot of other people around. The parking was well lit, though, so that was good. He walked over to his car

Bill lay on the cot and listened. It was mostly silent. He thought it was weird because he knew that, not far away, massive machinery was in motion. He should be hearing loud groans, squeeks, and screeches. Instead, he only heard the the hissing and gasping of his air supply. He knew why he couldn’t hear his ship re-configuring itself for mining duty: there was no air outside of his habitat. 

“Habitat” was a generous word for what he was sleeping in. It was barely more than a tent, although it was supposed to be a lot tougher, to withstand things micometeorites and whatever else could go flying through the vacuum of space. It had the fold-down cot, which he was now laying on, and a kitchenette of sorts. 

There was no concept of ‘day’ or ‘night’ here, with ‘here’ being an asteroid that he hoped would have a decent run of precious metals.

And there it was: he way laying on a cot in a tent on an asteroid. In space. That was something he never even considered a few years ago. During all those job interviews, he never once answered that, in five years, he’d be trying to sleep on a small dead rock in the middle of nothing. Well, not really nothing; he was in an asteroid field, so there were lots of other asteroids about. They weren’t very close, though. It’s not like he could walk out his habitat and wave at a neighbor passing by on their own asteroid. That would be pretty cool, though.

He picked up his PEA and brought up the timer. There were still several hours to go before the ship finished the configuration change. A red banner across the top of the screen informed him that he still did not have a connection to the sub-space communications net. He wouldn’t be able to watch anything or talk to anyone. He didn’t have anyone to talk to, so that wasn’t a big deal. There were people he missed back home, but he wasn’t sure they missed him. 

It was obvious he wasn’t going to be able to sleep right now, so Bill got up and looked out of the plastic window facing the ship. It didn’t look like much, just a mostly square lump. Most of the changes were happening on the inside. Ever once in a while, steam would vent out and disapate. Flood lights illuminated the area around it, but it was just flat grey landscape. Bill was glad the computers handled the landing because he was sure he wouldn’t have been able to land the massive craft on the small circular area by himself. 

“You want to do what?” asked Fred, incredulously.

“I want to mine. An asteroid,” said Bill.

They were having lunch at a bistro in the station. Bright white tables and chairs on a bright white floor, with bright white lights everywhere. Fred was wearing a jumpsuit of the style that was so popular recently. Everyone was wearing the purple grayish things these days. Bill had no idea why, but he figured they were easy to print out and, since there was nothing endearing about them, easy to toss in the recyclers at the end of the day.

“Have you lost your mind? Why?”

Bill pushed his lunch around with his general purpose utensil. He wasn’t sure what it was. Maybe noodles? Maybe dumplings? 

“It’s different,” he said.

“Different, all right. You can get killed doing that. Do you know how many miners get ejected into space when something goes wrong?”

“No. How many?” Bill asked, curiously.

“Well, I don’t know. A lot. Probably. You should look that up, maybe it’ll change your mind.”

“Don’t you ever get bored? All the white around here. Every day it’s the same thing.”

“White means clean,” said Fred. “And being the same means nothing unexpected. Nothing dangerous. Like, you’re not going to be blown out into space because something exploded when it shouldn’t have.”

“Sure, but nothing else is going to change, either. I’ll be doing the same job with no chance of doing something else or making more money.”

Fred dropped his utensil on his white plastic plate. “Oh, so you think you’re going to get rich? You think you’re going to strike a vein of, what, gold? Platinum?”

“Maybe. It could happen,” said Bill. “I’ve got a better chance of finding platinum out there than I do here.”

“How are yo going to get a ship? Mining equipment? It can’t be cheap to get all that stuff.”

“I’ve got savings. It’s not like there’s a lot of stuff around here to spend it on.”

“You should find a woman, Bill. That’s something to spend your money on.”

“Women don’t want anything from me,” said Bill. “I’ve had lots of time to prove that.”

And that’s where I’m at. With, you know, hopefully more tonight. We’ll see how that goes. Providing I don’t fall asleep at my desk at 6pm or something stupid like that.