Dogs and Chickens and Cats! Oh My!

Sloth. If I were going to be judged for the sin I commit most often and most thoroughly, it’d be sloth. I can still sleep like a teenager. Ten, twelve hours straight, no problem. The brain starts getting fuzzy if I get less than nine.

I get up most mornings around 7:00 a.m. to get the kids off to school, but since I’ve always been a night owl (thanks, Dad), my mind doesn’t really get going until around 3:00 p.m. Of course, 3:00 p.m. is also when I pick the kids up from school. That whole homework, extracurriculars, feed the family, clean the dishes, read the stories routine usually lasts until bedtime, which, for the eldest, is 9:00 p.m. Every now and then, I like to speak to my husband about something other than Legos and superheroes, boyfriends and tween girl drama, so factoring that in, I’m usually ready to write by 10:00 p.m. Except that’s my bedtime. Yes, dammit. I’m thirty-nine years old, and I have a bedtime. It’s just that I’m not particularly punctual about it.

Given all of these factors, most of my writing happens during the day, in fits and starts. I drop the kids off at school, come home, pour a glass of sweet tea, grab my notebook and favorite pen, and sit in the rocking chair near the window overlooking the back yard. At this point, given that the magical combination of caffeine and sugar haven’t kicked in yet, I can usually only muster up a paragraph or two before getting stuck. As I stare into the distance trying to come up with the next sentence, I notice that Dewey Dell, the younger/dumber of our two Chihuahuas, is noshing away at something in the back yard. I open the door and call her name several times with increasing urgency and sternness, which of course she ignores. No, that’s not right. She doesn’t ignore me. She eats faster. I go investigate, fairly certain she’s eating some variety of poisonous mushroom and will soon die a horribly painful death while convulsing and foaming at the mouth. Nope. Wrong. We have three backyard chickens, so of course she’s having chicken shit for breakfast. Much tastier, it seems, than that fancy Rachel Ray Just 6 crap we feed her. I file away the knowledge that, post-apocalypse, my dogs can survive off the excrement of our hens, which means that we can eat their kibble if we get desperate.

Ass back in the chair. Another paragraph or two down. Another pause. I reach for the glass of tea on the floor next to the rocker, only to realize half of it is gone because Sophie, our older/smarter Chihuahua has helped herself to a drink while I was investigating the shit-eater in the backyard. Screw it. Sophie kisses me on the mouth at least thirty-two times a day. Drinking after her is no big deal. After all, she’s not the one eating chicken shit. When I pick up the glass, though, she looks at me like, “WTH? That’s my tea, wench.” Like room-temperature water with kibble crumbs and puppy backwash isn’t good enough for her. Ingrate.

To the writing once more! I shall prevail! A few more sentences this time, and good ones, too. Pause. Another sentence. Pause. Another two paragraphs. A page. Damn! I’m on a roll! Until I’m not. More staring out of the window, at which point I realize one of the chickens has a three-foot piece of string hanging out of her beak. Did you know chickens are particularly stupid animals? Why is it that a chicken’s brain is bigger than a parakeet’s brain, yet Disco the parakeet can beat-box, snore, and sing Mr. Roboto, while my chickens can’t tell the difference between a three-inch-long worm and a three-foot-long piece of fecking string? What the hell kind of worm did you think that was, chicken? Oh, yes, a Giant Gippsland Earthworm. Makes perfect sense. She was determined, though, and squawked most unhappily when I pulled the thing out of her gullet. She hid in the bushes for the rest of the day.

Ass. in. the. rocker. And I’m staying here this time, dammit. And lo and behold, I actually get a couple of pages down before the cat races into the room, hops onto the sofa, and pukes on the pillow. Because, you know, puking on the pillow was a matter of great urgency and import. You may not realize this, but cats abide by a very strict legal code, and breaking these laws is punishable by death. The by-laws on puking consist of, in part: No puking on nonporous surfaces like ceramic tile, vinyl, or linoleum. All puking must occur in either hard to reach or hard to clean locations, but preferably the area of choice will satisfy both qualities. Highly visible areas such as the living room carpet, the sofa and its cushions, the master’s bed pillows, or clean and folded laundry are designated puking locations. Only in cases of extreme emergency may cats deviate from this code. In those cases, nonporous surfaces such as the kitchen counter or stove and hard to reach areas such as under the bed or sofa are permitted.

So. Once the puke is cleaned, the cushion is only slightly the worse for wear, and I’m back in the saddle again and scribbling away when the cat decides to puke under the kitchen table. Because really, guys. Cats never puke just once. By this time, it’s clear that my efforts to write are hopeless. I love my animals, but it’s obvious they do not want me to finish this novel and are conspiring against me to prevent its completion. I get up and plod, defeated and depressed, to fetch a roll of toilet paper, as I’ve used the last of the paper towels on the sofa cushion. Back to the kitchen. At least this time, Dewey Dell is there to help me clean up the mess.

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