Making The Grade

We attended our godson’s homeschool graduation last night – it was amusing because he is already taking community college courses and has the appearance of a 25 yr old operator home on leave. But last night was the first time his peers really saw what he had accomplished in his short life. Each family was allowed a 5 minute video and brief speech. I wish I could share the video but his family is very private and it would not be proper. But allow me to note what accomplishments were detailed in his bio.

Life Guard, Wilderness First Responder, Open Water SCUBA, Level III Commissioned Security Officer, Level IV Personal Protection Officer, Water Safety Instructor, Life Guard Instructor

During these things he managed to acquire over 30 hours of college credit.

We are so proud of him…I was glad I remembered to bring the hanky because I needed it. At the end of the video his father’s speech was short and sweet – that his goal was to raise a good man and send him out into the world and that he had reached that goal. And it was true. So many of the other videos were merely a timeline with few accomplishments noted. And the speeches were long and without half the meaning of those few words.

He is a fine young man who will soon be moving on to his next adventure, well prepared for it. (He and his father may or may not have actually attended the training event. Ahem.)

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Farewell To Sir Mookie

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For nearly a decade that sweet face looked into my own every morning and night. Once upon a time he was a bunny killer, having raided a warren and taken out a handful of the wee things and brought them as trophies. A rather sad conquest, true, but he was trying to remind me in his middle age that he still had the ability. And that without any claws. Or balls. It was that strong paw that took him from the shelter and into Sarge’s home – Sarge was looking for a dog; Mookie reached out and snatched at his arm as he passed. Sarge took him from the cage and the rest is history.

He was with me every night that Sarge was in the academy, at my side like a guardian, and the only company most days. He loved to lay in the crook of my arm every night and especially when it was cold outside. His elderly cat body grew thin and he would huddle against me whenever I was still for a moment. At night, I would shift with care, knowing he was there, only half sleeping sometimes for the irritation of being hemmed in by his slight self. If I grew tired of the cramped position and rolled a bit too far over, he would wend his way to the top of the bed and lay himself like a furry garland around my head.

Mookie loved to be outside though we permitted this only briefly of late as he exhibited that cat maneuver of running away from home when illness takes them. It is a strange character that I have noted in two other cats and could see growing in him. He slept more and more, craved food though it did little good…his system was shutting down and, being at least 20 years of age, it was only reasonable. In my heart I wanted to make a concerted farewell…I wanted to hug and kiss him – for, he would hug you, his paws around your neck…I wanted to feel his light weight sleeping in my arms again. Instead, I woke his sleeping self, kissed his chilly ear again and again, snuggled his wizened head to my cheek, and turned away…that paw, strength still in it, reached out quick and hard to snatch at my hand and stay my leaving. It brought a silent gasp and almost the tears came.

But I was being strong…strong for Sarge who had to see the duty through. Strong for Mookie who was with me for so many dark nights. Just a damned fool cat. Och, but I loved him so…farewell Maximus. You were a damned fine feline. Damned fine.

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Where The Mulberry Grows

Each morning this time of year we are all on the hunt for the black fruit of the spare tree at the field’s edge. One has to wait, to be patient, for that change from tight red drupe to the miniature blackberry-looking ripeness and it can be difficult. The birds like them just as much and do not have a good grasp of the concept of “sharing”.

I have enjoyed this pleasure when I was very young – another tree, larger, and a mother that remonstrated – only the black ones and be careful not to fall. Those her only cautions, she did not mention the stained fingers and faces our gorging would produce. But as a city child, it seemed the most amazing thing – food free to eat and deliciously fresh. Why wasn’t every child in the tree?

The dogs like them just as much, Ranger having learned how to delicately part the leaves and reach underneath to nipper off the berries. It was new to Kota, though, and her large muzzle cannot move with the dexterity he has. Frustrated, she yanks and pulls at the limb, trying to get it on the ground, I think, where she could take it at her leisure. So I pick her small handfuls that she gobbles up in a moment.

It is a lovely spring morning tradition and it reminds me that I ought to plant a few Elsewhere. There is no work, otherwise, for the harvest. Just the knowledge that the season is brief. Not a bad reminder, really, of the tenuousness of all things. Glean what you can…and enjoy its rich, rare flavor.

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