Pet Parents

I want to point out a disturbing example of profiling. Can you believe that I have read that dog owners generally have more advanced social skills than >>gasp<< owners of cats?
Superficial evidence might support that premise. No, I don’t have a leash for my feline, so we don’t head out for romps in the park where we would meet other feline/human pairs playing rowdy games of fetch, jumping in puddles and on humans, greeting those on both ends of the leashes with warm smiles, playful chats and slobbery kisses. 
And no, I don’t go for joy rides giving passers-by the chance to rub his feline nose through an open window or to give him a good loving rubdown as reward for waiting obediently in the back of the pick-up listening to baby language with that extra-terrestrial tone.
Not owning a dog doesn’t mean I don’t have all the social interaction I want, when I want it, thank you, minus muddy paw prints and grass stains on my clothes and slimy pet slobber everywhere else.
You see, my cat is not into rides. He senses the usual destination. He will walk me to the car or greet me in the driveway, but no way is he hopping through an opened door, planting front paws on the dash, panting in excitement to go bye-bye.
He prefers a time of serene contemplative meditation, preferably solo, under his favorite tree or a atop his birdbath perch. If he agrees to dialogue, it must be in grown-up talk or he twitches his ears and excuses himself till I get with the program. We don’t really need the exchange of words, anyway; I understand his wishes with perfectly timed paw pats that convey a multitude of intents with variations in speed, pressure and absence or presence of claws.
The front yard is his playground. He would rather not share it with any other creature, though from time to time he might watch for amusement purposes only before enjoying a brief game of tag till the area is clear again. 
A leash would be useless. He goes where he wants when he wants or I carry him if I have to change his location before he sees the need, and only after I catch him.
Other research indicates cat owners exhibit marks of higher intelligence than do dog owners. It’s in print; it must be so.
My cat agrees. He has given his paw pat of approval along with some affectionate purring. Time to go outside.

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Heavenwards

Some high school knuckleheads in my past could command an entire cafeteria or study hall without word or force; they simply looked up. As their circle of influence expanded, sounds subsided, until their guffaws took over, that is.

(Must admit I tried this tactic a time or two in my own classroom. Knucklehead paybacks. Fun stuff).

Our Creator designed some awesome attention-getters, as if to say, “Ok, humans. Take a chill pill.” They work, pulling our gazes heavenwards.
*Rainbows – singles, doubles or partials. Doesn’t matter, we notice. Recently my sis sent me a photo text of one at the very moment I was snapping my own, a precious shared moment miles apart.

*Eagles – soaring or perched. Their majesty draws our attention to the skies or to the treetops. 

*Birds – the V-train of migration or the flowing black wave on the horizon. We are reminded of seasons and cycles, perhaps comforted thinking ‘this too shall pass’ as we linger to contemplate the intriguing sight of birds in flight.

*Clouds – puffy whites or menacing darks. We start young seeing familiar shapes, watching them move and morph. If we’re lucky we have little ones in our lives later luring our grown-up eyes and minds to the skies.

*Sunrises and sunsets – colorful, cinematic. These silent movies perhaps trigger music in our minds to accompany the awesome displays.

*Stars – stationary, solitary, falling or in formation. The darker the sky, the brighter the light.

*Sun and Moon – marching across the horizon, illuminating all with astounding precision. Their choreographed dance draws a collective world-wide chorus of oohs and aahs when they seem to collide. I hope they are well-rehearsed. 

Millions gazed upward on Monday, August 21, for a premier viewing of a solar eclipse. Encore in April of 2024.

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Dog Days

Sittin’ on the porch, sippin’ iced tea
Watchin’ the squirrels and the butterflies,
Seems the perfect place for sleepy me;
Even the cat is sharing his sighs.

For a while we planned lots of activity,
But loosening now are those busy ties
To run here, to do that, to go there and see.
Now we watch clouds floating by in the skies.

If you will, pass the pitcher, please,
And hand me the swatter for these darn flies.
That rain cloud is really just a tease
As these dog days dwindle before our eyes.

One who gets up early is the one who sees
Sirius coming up at sunrise;
Or the Dog Star, if you know facts like these,
Slows summer days with wonders and whys.

(Dog Days -July 3rd to August 11th)

 

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Countryfied

When I was plopped down in Ripley County in the middle of nowhere as a not-quite-16 year old, I vowed I would never be a country convert in ANY way, but particularly not in my music choices.
Remaining a separatist took some doing. I could listen to Wolfman Jack out of WLS in Chicago on nightime rides and soak up all the rock music I could stay awake for. Favorite tunes could be purchased on 45’s from Fred’s, and I could play my cherished 33’s on the stereo in the living room and pretend for a while I was not in the midst of brush, bugs and blue jeans.

KDFN was the local radio station – totally country for sure – and I did tune in at scheduled times to hear Grandpa Hunt read the local/national news, to argue with Grapevine (a 30-minute phone-in talk show), to list items from the call-in buy/sell show Current River Exchange on Saturday mornings, but not to listen to music. Being subjected to the weekly broadcasts of Grand Ol’ Opry growing up as first child of a super fan was enough country/western music to last me a lifetime, I thought.

After one year in a tiny rural high school, off to college I went, the country/bluegrass culture in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, ever present to challenge my resolve. We college kids had plenty of ammunition: AC/DC, Earth, Wind and Fire, Chicago, KC and the Sunshine Band, Neil Diamond, the Eagles. I won’t go on, but I could. I had tons of options to safeguard my resolve.

Two years of college in the Kansas City area, with a roomie who played acoustic guitar, I learned to sing harmony and gained an appreciation for popular ballads, folk and country. The first crack in my shield.

Fate would lead me back to work in that same rural district I had scrambled to escape from as a teen. As a teacher I wanted to be in tune with my middle school kids, so I lowered my shield and played with the radio dial a bit more often. Good thing; Billy Yates was among my first students and I am among his devoted fans now.

Motherhood came during the disco era, as well as work on advanced degrees, so I filled long hours on the road with the loud rhythm of pop and rock to maintain musical balance…and stay awake. A year’s residence in Memphis, with the radio dial inviting me to tune in to all sorts of styles punched multiple chinks into my protection.

Back to the rural district in Missouri, this time in a high school setting, the balance was tipped toward loud 80’s tunes the teens preferred. My cheerleaders adored routines to the likes of Guns and Roses, so I found myself chilling to softer country tunes at home, without realizing my brain cells were absorbing the lyrics of both genres. 

In retirement I am relishing those varied musical memories that are tagged to so many events, and I am now chilling to 80’s tunes – on purpose! – on our new local public station KQJN 99.1 established by James Nonnemaker, another among those former students of mine. 

And I am learning a thing or two….sometimes the beats and the bars in various genres sound amazingly similar and dancing to all of them is great exercise as well as tons of fun. Another fact I have learned is that our county has many talented, creative souls who can play, sing, write, perform, produce and encourage others to do the same. Another reason to sing and dance!

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Fans

My folks had a fan and they knew how to use it.

Many times Dad put the box fan in a window, lowered the sill to brace it, raised or lowerd other windows to fist width, and instantly cooled the atmosphere within those hot, sticky walls. It was magic that I didn’t totally figure out till I had my own hot, sticky rooms to cool. Then I realized there was science behind his magic. Factors considered included time of day, room being used and for what, where the shade was outside and the decision to pull air in or blow it out. He always seemed to know without much fuss.

Mom made magic, too, with a box fan. Sultry city summers didn’t keep us kids from running to the park or the neighbors to run some more in games of tag or hide and seek, or from biking through the heat waves visible over concrete sidewalks. We could get hot, sticky, stinky and cranky by mid-afternoon. After quick baths we welcomed the cool comfort of naps in our underwear on top of the spreads, curtains pulled and rippling from the fan sitting in the floor or on a chair, neverminding the rattles that didn’t completely drown out the low tunes from the radio.

These summer days in the country are just as sultry; after all, this is Missouri, and you know what they say about our sizzling temps. My activity might require nothing more than standing outside watering flowers in a barrel – no running or biking involved – and the remedy for my sweaty body and cranky mood still includes a fan.

A quick cool shower, donning an oversized tee and stretching out on a patchwork quilt in an air-conditioned house doesn’t quite do the trick. But, add the gentle breeze and hum from an old box fan stabilized on a braided rug, rattles from the knobs quieted, please, and low tunes from 99.1 and nap time seems luxurious.
Perfect preparation for the next summer adventure.

“It is good people who make good places.” (Anna Sewell) My folks were good people.
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FRIEND and FOE

You’ve been here for ages,
Your rages and seduction recorded in pages of time.

Rains falling with vengeance,
Increasing the strains on your banks
Along with the pains of change.

Your dark churning water races,
Removing traces of life, love, joy,
Leaving spaces disgracing your allure.

Our brains can’t fathom your destruction –
Physical, emotional,
Individual, communal,
Economical, spiritual.
Hope tied to your rejuvenation,
Searching for safety, sanity and
Lemonade.

Ravished:
Seized by force or filled with delight – the Jekyll and Hyde of our beloved Current River.

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Aftermath

 

It was a bit eerie eyeing empty fields when practices and games normally would be filling the park with cars and kids, snowcones and hotdogs, softball banter and applause. Pick-ups pulling boats began trickling in about the time The L’il Kitchen and Shaved Ice moved back. By the Memorial Day weekend ballgames and boat traffic had resumed along with relief that some routine had returned

We have been artificially catapulted into the slower days of summer around here, similar to those days just before the start of school, thanks to the 1000-year flood in May. ‘Twould be great if that new title is accurate, since the last few years have seen multiple 100-year floods come a’callin’ prematurely.

Without warning the flood has given us an extreme example of the effects of not shopping locally. Empty buildings, lost jobs, decreased tax revenue, less traffic resulting in reduced sales in businesses still operating.
Diminished tourism means fewer dollars spent everywhere – convenience markets/gas stations, groceries, package stores, motels, variety stores, eateries, and flea markets. Fewer dollars means less profit, so fewer employees necessary. Fewer employees means non-seasonal services suffer as well with fewer dollars floating around. Granted, businesses on higher ground may feel a boost, but even they will be affected by the reduction in folks who visit our area for river-related recreation.

It seemed Doniphan/Ripley County had become an increasingly popular destination. Are we going to become just a place to go to the bathroom and get a soda on the way to somewhere else? Are we relying too much on the river to thrive as a community? If so, how can we alter that?

Time is needed to rebound after the magnitude of the devastation endured. I hope greed and politics don’t stand in the way of rebuildingIMG_1596

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