Giving Tuesday…

I’ve led what, for most purposes, has been a charmed life. Maybe not Gates Foundation or Ford Foundation charmed, but well enough for a kid from down the crick.

Since today is Giving Tuesday, another internet created special purpose day, I’m giving back in the way most likely to avoid requiring interaction with people – Sending cash.

This year, I’m throwing my support to these good causes:

As per usual, I’m focused in, mainly, on organizations that exist for the benefit of animals. I’m sure there are many, many wonder charities that do wonderful things for people… but people as a group are just awful, so animals it is.

Whatever your passion is, though, I hope you’ve found some way to give back today.

What Doesn’t Annoy Jeff this Week?

What Annoys Jeff this Week is usually the place where I vent my spleen each week. Most of the time it’s easy enough to cull the “top three” things from the list and give them each a little paragraph of exposition. Some weeks, this one included, offer what I can only describe as an embarrassment of riches. In fact this week it would be easier to discuss the few things that have not annoyed me in some way.

1. The critters. Despite the bills for care, feeding, and entertainment, I can’t think of a time when I’ve ever begrudged one of my animals anything. Regardless of the stupidity going on “out there” beyond the four walls of the house, they’re consistent in their affection and pleasure at seeing me every afternoon. Even the cat. Walking through the door to be greeted by a wave of fur and slobber is the high water mark of each and every day.

2. Living rural. Every time I switch on the television I find myself faced with an endless amount of stupid things happening. For the most part that coverage is dedicated to the things happening in major cities here at home and around the globe. Now I’m tuned in to the local news outlets closely enough to know that there’s plenty of stupidity happening in Cecil County, too. Fortunately, my little corner of the place is remarkably serene. Now there may still be plenty of stupidity happening nearby, but we have the common decency to (mostly) keep in behind closed doors.

3. Blood. You don’t get to pick your family. What you end up with seems to be mostly be left up to the luck of the draw. Let me say that knowing that, I feel like I’ve been given a very fortunate hand to play. I’m looking forward to that rare opportunity of spending some quality time with them this weekend.

If there’s anything else you can think of this week, it’s safe to just go ahead and assume that it has annoyed me at some point.

Animal kingdom…

The homestead is something of an animal kingdom. The squirrels and birds get plied with all the nuts and seeds they can eat, the resident deer get the occasional handful of corn, and all manner of morsels from the kitchen feed whatever creatures will eat them. The critters inside pretty much have the run of the place. As often as not it feels like the whole household is designed around them. Given the amount of time I spent shifting furniture yesterday that’s not quite an understatement.
Until Hershel the cat came along, George the tortoise lived happily in his open topped enclosure in the office. With the addition of a cat, who wasn’t so IMG_6401.JPGmuch interested in the tortoise as he was in jumping into and out of the enclosure and spinning ground coconut onto every flat surface in the room with every leap in and out. Between the never-ending cycle of vacuuming up coconut shell and the threat of tipping over various heat lamps, the two had to be separated.

That was easy enough in the winter – close up the doors to the sunroom/office and go on about the day. With spring setting in and inability to satisfactorily control the ambient air temperature coming to a head, George had to move… Which is why I spent most of the day yesterday getting him installed in his own bedroom. Yes, I understand how perfectly ridiculous that sounds, but I suspect we’ll all be happier with this arrangement. Well, the cat may not be as pleased since I seem to have taken away one of his favorite toys. I supposed he’ll just have to satisfy himself with other less messy options for the foreseeable future.

I’m well satisfied with out new arrangement, but perhaps more satisfied that the furniture is all back in place and the hand carts and other implements of moving are back in the garage. Around here the biggest enemies to a happy life are chaos and disorder. Spending the better part of a day bringing those to heel feels like time awfully well spent.

Baby steps…

Until two and a half weeks ago, I’d lived for a little over eight years in a canine only household. I’m not counting the tortoise because mostly he’s just a sunlamp loving rock that
needs daily greens and fresh water. Being cat free wasn’t because I harbor instinctive ill will towards. There was always a cat around growing up and I had one myself in the past. Adding another mouth to the herd was just never all that FullSizeRender (27).jpgmuch a priority.

Since I haven’t given our new addition a proper introduction on the blog, it felt like something I needed to do. The nice folks at my vet’s office had been fostering Hershel since he was dropped off on their doorstep at about two weeks old. He ended up being the sole survivor of his litter-mates. They were looking for a permanent position for him so they could take on the next troubled animal… which of course paved the way for me to bring him home to Fortress Jeff.

I’ve never been particularly sympathetic to people, but animals, man, they seem to manage to find all my feels. I’m happy to report that he’s integrating even better than I had expected. I think what we’re all getting use to is having a youngling around the house again. With both the dogs well into advanced middle age and me being the youngest old man on the planet, the level of energy a kitten has is something to behold… even if it is occasionally troublesome for the rest of us.

Really, though, we’re all still getting to know one another and figure out where we all fit in. The dogs have been remarkably tolerant of this small creature that seems determined to pounce on them from every direction simultaneously. I’ve also learned just how many electrical cords I have strung around this house. Tonight’s project is coating as many of them as possible in soap, which he doesn’t seem to enjoy chewing on at all.

My initial assessment is that we’re going to enjoy having this little fuzzball around… especially once he decides there are better things to gnaw on than my fingers in the middle of the night. For now it’s all baby steps.

A dog’s approach…

I’m sure something noteworthy happened somewhere today, but I was too busy bouncing between meetings to figure out what that might be. I’m not saying jam packed days are a bad thing. If nothing else, they tend to go quickly. Still, the amount of mental energy I expend on being “on” all day to deal with large numbers of people is quite simply exhausting. I’ve heard that some people thrive on nonstop activity, but right now the refrigerator’s compressor is filling the house with enough noise to drive me to distraction.

The dogs, bless them, are incredibly intuitive when it comes to picking up moods. Winston just waddled over and laid down with his chin on my foot, demanding no attention, but offering a satisfied snort in exchange for a rub on the head. Maggie took the opportunity to steal his bed and is most likely bunked down until it’s time to go upstairs later. It’s days like this that make me supremely happy I don’t have overly excitable pets.

There are too many overly excitable animals in the world already… and unfortunately, the majority of them seem to be people. That’s unfortunate. I think they could learn a lot from taking a dog’s approach to life.

The kids…

Where I have little to no patience for human beings (regardless of whether they be large or small), I have a decided soft spot for most of the other members of the animal kingdom. I’d rather spend a day with dogs, horses, turtles, or dolphins than I would 99.999999% of the people on the planet. After living with myself for 35 years, I suspect I’m uniquely unsuited for the role of parent by aptitude, attitude, and general level of interest. I don’t have human children and I’m completely at peace with that decision. Kids 2Whatever nurturing instinct other people have for small humans, I seem to have for animals.

Where most people in my age bracket are lavishing time and attention on their kids, for me it’s the dogs. Sir Winston, my medical misfit, will turn six in January. He’s my special needs child if there ever was one. With a host of ointments, salves, and balms for his skin, drops for his ears, a prescription diet, and a bionic leg, like me, he’s alive mostly because of the wonder of modern medicine. He’s well into middle age for a bulldog and seems to be happy enough passing his time sprawled out across the middle of the living room floor. He still has an occasional surge of the old energy that’s really something to see, but more and more he’s simply the grand old man of the house, content to watch the world pass by through the glass of the back door.

Lady Margaret, the only chocolate in a litter of black labs, clearly follows in the footsteps of her older brother. By that I mean she is possibly the most atypical Labrador retriever I’ve ever met in my life. I won’t say that she’s lazy, but she is definitely laid back. Where other people complain that labs are overly excitable bundles of energy, she’s only really bothered when the doorbell rings or someone gets too close to her yard without seeking permission first. Maggie turns five in October, so it’s safe to say she’s well past the point where I need to worry about the rambunctious puppy stages.

The two of them really have been nearly inseparable since the day I accidentally brought Maggie home. Aside from a few random days and the occasional vacation, they’ve both been pretty inseparable from me, too. They’re the closest thing to kids I ever plan on having… and they have the added benefit of never wanting to go to college, or get married, or borrow the car. Now if I could just come up with a way to claim them as dependents, I’ll be all set.

This has been the final edition of “You Ask, I Write” for August. Thanks for playing.