Milemarker 70

I’ve reached that 70 milestone, friends. Impossible to imagine that I’m actually that old.

Apparently Miriam Makeba was born on this day too, so I’m in good company. Of course also on this day in 1980, Robert Mugabe took power in Zimbabwe, so I guess we’ll just have to take the rough with the smooth.

And when I lived in Edinburgh, I had no idea that the future King Edward VII opened the Forth Bridge in 1890 on March 4th. I wonder if they planned that.

The Net also tells me that I have lived for 36,816,480 minutes and I am 25,567 days old, 8,522 of which I have slept through. No comment is necessary on any of that.

I wish you could taste this cake. That’s not buttercream, which I really don’t like. It’s some kind of flavored cream or cream cheese. Utter heaven. My freezer is now full of what little remains. I want to make it last for at least the coming year.

The cake was presented at a surprise party my drum-and-dance peeps threw for me. My life almost ended with a heart attack at minute number 36,800,03. I’m not kidding.

Before, I never could understand the appeal of surprise parties. That was probably because I had never had one thrown for me nor had I ever attended one. I hear some people don’t like being caught off guard like that. Not me. I found it incredibly hilarious and touching that these crazy wonderful people had been plotting this event for weeks, even in my presence, and they were so slick about it I never had the slightest inkling.

The woman in front at the right with her hand up is a marvelous novelist and playwright and she stepped into the acting gig like Emma Thompson has nothing on her. She completely foxed me with a phony reason to meet downtown, I forgot the commitment, I was at home in my pajamas when the phone rang, I threw on clothes, and I dashed through traffic, found a parking spot blocks away, and showed up late. Didn’t even put my hair up. Made all my peeps wait, in suspense, for my grand entrance.

I almost fell over when this huge crowd blasted “Surprise!!!!” My drum teacher hugged me with a glass of beer in his hand and I was so overwrought, I somehow managed to throw the glass on the floor and it burst into a million pieces.

Look what my peeps made for me. You can see, everyone’s wearing one. “Dundun fola,” in the Mande languages, means “person who speaks through the drum.”

Even my teacher’s baby could join in the fun.

Barney doesn’t care. He is clearly starving and pathetic. I never feed him, you see.

And just look at what Miss Chloe made for me.







I’m still gobsmacked. I never dreamed that 70 could feel so great.

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We’re Making Progress

Bugs’s propensity to hurl his meals every two weeks or so, give or take, seems clearly connected to, if not actually caused by, hairballs. I’ve tried to alleviate this problem with a dried-coconut product that’s supposed to be of some use in moving things along.

I also brush him every day.

In this shedding season, though, look what we get. It must be exhausting, producing all that fluff.

By the way, that’d be each and every day. Keep in mind that Bugs is a short-haired cat. I get nothing like this from long-haired Barney. I’m having trouble keeping up.

Change of position, to commence fixing the remaining furs. Note the growing hairball in the foreground. It was this size a month ago:

I’ll have to call Kelly, of the Ozark Ball Museum, and tell him we’re making progress on a second installment.

The ball is growing apace.



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Inducted into the Ozark Ball Museum

The day for which I have been saving for years finally arrived. It was time to let go of the Giant Furball.

Of course I don’t mean Barney. What do you think I am?

No – it’s this thing. I took this right before I let go of it.

This is how it looked in 2016.

And here is its replacement, born anew the other day.

I’ve been saving up, with the Ozark Ball Museum in mind, each and every day after brushing the boys.

The Museum was founded by Kelly Mulhollan, one of the most wonderfully creative people imaginable. Kelly is a talented birder and string-player and song-writer and, together with his equally creative and brilliant wife Donna, the two perform their original brand of “new” folk music as the duo Still on the Hill.

Here they are, at home in the Ball Museum. Just look at that smile on Kelly. That’s Kelly being Kelly. He and Donna are irrepressible and irreplaceable and greatly loved in this community. Do visit their website. This picture does not do them justice.

Well, I can’t resist. Here’s a pro photo from their website. This way you get to see Donna being Donna. Do please check them out yourself. You can give a listen there and even become their patron.

Kelly and Donna used to be my neighbors, but you don’t have to be neighbors to know about the Ball Museum. It’s been written up in the papers. And now here on the blog, of course, so its fame is increasing exponentially. Thanks to that well-deserved fame, Kelly tells me, people actually call up and want to know Museum hours!

Pictures can’t really do justice to the collection, but here are a few to give you an idea.

Here is Our Ball, ensconced in its new home. I’m happy to think of us in such good company. I especially like that fluffy white one on the right there. That was contributed by a mutual friend’s dog.

Here’s a ball and chain from Alcatraz, dangling along the side of display case. It’s even labelled “Alcatraz” on its side.

I like this next category. The Saturday Night Fever Corner.

That picture of the blue one there? That was a pretty one Donna and Kelly picked up for the Museum. Until they heard a news report of how that pretty blue thing might be part of a cluster bomb that, if they dropped it, could blow them to kingdom come. The authorities had to dispose of that one.

There’s an interesting story behind this next one. Well, there’s an interesting story behind each and every ball, but this one kind of takes the cake.

This is an old propane tank. It still had some gas left in it when Kelly got it, together with the odorific additive ethyl mercaptan. When Kelly drained the tank, the entire neighborhood filled with that gas smell. The fire trucks screeched up in short order (authorities arriving again). The smell took weeks to dissipate and to get rid of it, Kelly had to cover the yard with another layer of dirt! Worth the trouble, I’d say.

The Ozark Ball Museum. Why we live here.

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Play Date With Frog

It’s been raining a lot lately, so look who turned up on the Catio.

Did you invite him, ma?

I wonder what would happen if I do this.

Whereupon Mr. Frog gave a mighty leap to the chair.

Bugs ponders his next move.

The only possible response:

Mr. Frog’s response was to flatten himself down into a micron-thin puddle. I’ve never seen such a flattened frog.

You just never know about the frogs around here. Some of them are poisonous.* So I ushered Mr. Frog outside the Catio into the great outdoors. Where Mr. Frog could carry on being a frog without further interference from this quarter.

*I could have misidentified the frog in the previous post as a Fowler’s toad. Orange legs . . .

Photo by Patrick Coin

. . . suggest it might have been a Cope’s gray tree frog.

Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor

No frogs were harmed in the making of this post.


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Better You Shouldn’t Hear

I was just watching a clip from Trevor Noah on the Daily Show where, at the White House Easter Egg Roll, Melania had to poke #45 to get him to “put his hand where the human heart should be” as the Star Spangled Banner was playing.

Bugs and Barney had curled up for a snooze.

So I went into the other room to scoop the litter box and I could not stop myself. I burst into song.

Me doing the Star Spangled Banner is something you just don’t want to hear under any circumstances.

But for the record, I’m adamantly opposed to any criticism of this “aggressive, unsingable, relatively recently adopted, ill-constructed descendant of a raunchy bar ballad turned celebration of obscure military stalemate.”

That would be un-American.

When I came out, both Bugs and Barney had come to their feet and were staring at me with utter alarm on their little faces.

Here they are, after they had recovered somewhat.

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Shed a Little Light

In these dark days of world-wide fear and uncertainty, a little light is especially appreciated. Please enjoy this fabulous cover of James Taylor’s great song “Shed a Little Light,” brought to you by the Maccabeats, Naturally 7, Martin Luther King, and Abraham Lincoln. I read somewhere that James himself thought this was the best cover of his work ever.

On the home front in related news, we are having an argument about a lamp.

I read in John Bradshaw’s The Trainable Cat – well of course I did, I’m one of those “obsessive cat owners who would read its 300-some pages beginning to end.” Although we all know I “own” nothing. If anybody owns anyone, it’s the cats own me.

Anyway, my point. I read in Bradshaw that some cats nibble and pick at and chew stuff because they needed this behavior, as predators, to pluck the feathers from their bird prey.

I have this lovely lamp I inherited from my grandmother. It came with a lovely raw-silk shade.

Here is what has happened to the lovely raw-silk shade. Not done by Barney.

By Bugs, who else.

For the week leading up to this post, I kept the camera next to the lamp, hoping I could catch Bugs in the act. No such luck – although my simply reaching for the camera was enough to get him to stop, naturally, so there was at least some utility there.

You don’t think I’d let you snap me in the act, do you?

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Learning From Outrage

This Sunday didn’t start off well – with an e-mail from Tom Cotton, the alleged person who is supposed to be representing me in the U.S. Senate. He was very proud to tell me “great news.” Thanks to his direct intervention with U.S. Health Secretary Tom Price, the peace of mind of the good citizens of Royal, Arkansas (west of Hot Springs) will no longer be disturbed by the specter of unaccompanied “illegal-immigrant” children – that’s right, unaccompanied children – being housed at a nearby defunct Job Corps center. Cotton praises the good citizens of Royal for their “vigilance” in driving out this terrible threat. This, Cotton says, “will help keep Arkansas families safe.”

I circulated this outrage to my political colleagues. In response, one of them has offered to find out where those poor children have been shunted off to, to send them care packages.

This person responds to outrage with generosity. I myself tend to stay seething in outrage. Maybe I can learn something here.

In other news, spring started about a month early this year, thanks to the summery February we’ve been having. On Saturday, February 11th, it was 81 degrees F. here. And it’s not just here. This has been the hottest February on record in hundreds of years — all over the U.S.A, in Britain, and 90.5 degrees F. in New Delhi.

So of course this had to happen.

Here’s Bugs wanting to go back inside, after colliding with the shock of sub-30 degree weather.

He does ask nicely, though, when I take his picture instead.

And here’s Barney.

Our latest clicker-training gambit is jumping up on top of Nelson’s Column and then spinning around in a tight circle.

Anything to stop brooding about the political situation.

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