The bell rings

You know how they say life begins at 50, which by the way it doesn’t? Life began for me at about 7:30 last night.

I’d not been feeling well all afternoon. Migraine. But I hoisted my cat-fur-pantsed self off the couch around then to roll the trash cans to the curb. As I was doing so, my incredibly handsome Amazon delivery guy—and I don’t mean he’s from the Amazon but maybe he is, what do I know?—leaped up my porch steps manfully to deliver several packages, and I got yer package right here, Amazon guy.

I decided to sit on my front porch and open said packages, and they included a fair number of belated birthday gifts from readers, which was a delight and thank you. Among my gifts was a Ring doorbell from Miss Doxie. It’s like Miss Doxie knows my soul. She knows my innermost needs. I’ve been wanting a Ring doorbell ever since I moved in here to ward off the many odd knocks I get.

I was admiring it and the DVD of The Ring and The Ring II that she also sent me, along with the ring she got to marry herself over her whole three-ring theme, when a car pulled up. It was The Poet.

“Oh!” I said, as I am Dick and June. Oh! Oh! Oh! Look! See, see The Poet! “Did you text? I’ve been out here.”

“No, I just decided to show up,” she said, dropping off a bag full of snacks I love, and what was last night, June’s Boxing Day? It was my birthday all over again.

We got on the Off and commenced sitting at polar ends of my porch, catching up. As we did, my next-door neighbor walked by with a woman I didn’t know. We waved, because it’s the South and you wave. The woman I didn’t know introduced herself as Joan.

Joan. DundunDUNNNNNN.

Oh. Joan! Look! See! See Joan!

I know who Joan is because my across-the-street neighbor, Bette, is not a Joan fan. In fact, there have been several…confrontations between the two as of late. I know this because Bette has told me in no uncertain terms.

I miss these confrontations every time. “Did you hear me hollering at Joan?” Bette will ask, and I will once again lament that I miss everything and how? I’m in this tiny house all day long but I never hear a thing.

“How do I miss everything?” I always ask Bette.

Mike the Lumbee, my neighbor who painted my porch for me, had also told me all about the feud between Joan and Bette. “Oh, we’ve had to call the law,” Mike the Lumbee said. I call him this because that’s what he always calls himself. I have his business card, and it reads

Mike. Lumbee.

I am not making that up.

A Lumbee is a type of Native American indigenous to these here parts, as far as I know. I had never heard of them till I met Mike the Lumbee.

Anyway, Mike the Lumbee said the law has been called a few times when Bette and Joan feud. He always says “the law” and I rather enjoy it.

Also, Mike the Lumbee is up in everything. He’ll tell you all about everyone, whether it’s true or not. He told everyone that time the grocery delivery didn’t come after I’d ordered $130 of groceries, and that’s how he found out where the groceries accidentally got delivered. He also told everyone I make six figures, based on nothing other than the fact he once said I was a secretary and I got uppity and corrected him.

Mike the Lumbee was trying to jog my memory on who Joan was, but I assure you I’d never met her before.

“She lives with the gray-headed guy who owns the husky,” he said, and I’ve had other people tell me that before. That gray-headed guy who owns the husky. I would remember if I saw a husky, as I know everyone by their dogs, but beyond that I really want to see a man with a gray head. In my mind he’s one of those big-foreheaded aliens with a pointy chin, all gray-headed, just walking his husky.

Anyway, I assure you I’ve never seen the gray-headed man nor have I seen his housemate Joan till last night, because I miss everything.

So there The Poet and I were, chatting on my front porch. The Poet, whose parents met in Paris. The Poet, who was nominated for a National Book Award.

Suddenly there was a hullabaloo over at Bette’s across the street. Without delving into everyone’s everything like a certain Lumbee I know, I will just say that something fairly benign happened over at Bette’s that, if you had a problem with Bette, you would see as less than benign.

Then I saw Joan run over to Bette’s, about to get up in everything, and I said to The Poet, who plays the cello in a quartet, “Oh, this isn’t gonna be good.”

There Joan was in Bette’s yard, and did you ever see two cats fight?

Because Bette

BURST

out her front door. Burst out of it, like that dough that comes in the tube. And the next thing you know, those two were

SCREECHING at each other, and Bette’s husband had to come out and HOLD BETTE’S ARMS BACK while Joan was taunting her to come at her. Go ahead, come at her. She did the “come on” thing with her hands.

Oh my god it was the most exciting thing I ever saw in my life.

More members of Bette’s family came out, similarly screeching. Friends of Joan’s popped out of nowhere too. Everyone was yelling, and there was much arm-waving and F-wording, and I was a pig in clover.

I glanced over at The Poet as the law made its way to our normally quiet street. You know in Toy Story when the kid enters the room and everyone stops everything? That’s what my neighborhood usually is like for me. I come out and it’s quiet as the grave. And the one time there’s excitement, the poor Poet is on my porch in a front-row seat.

“I can tell by your appalled expression you are mortified by all this,” I said over the din, “but I am absolutely delighted.”

It was almost better than my new Ring doorbell.

Why am I like that? Why do I enjoy chaos? I grew up in a quiet house. There was no hooting and hollering. But my friends can tell you, when we used to go to bars all the time in our 20s? If there was a fist fight, I headed toward it, not away from it. I’d walk over to the flying chairs. I just love it. I’m certain this speaks to a terrible flaw in my personality, but join the club, flaw.

Anyway, when the law came, he made Joan go to one side of the street and Bette to the other. This did not stop them from hurling epithets at each other across the way.

It was right then, with the law holding the woman back and them yelling across the street, that

putputputputputput

here comes Mike, the Lumbee Indian, driving down the middle of our street on his riding lawnmower. He cuts everyone’s lawn here, except mine, a fact that rankles him. But there he was, the town crier, putputputting right in the middle of all that drama.

He looked left.

He looked right.

And just shook his head all the way back to his house.

When it was over and everyone had gone to their separate corners, my neighbor Bette made her way to my porch. “I wanted to apologize for my French,” she said, speaking to The Poet, who I think actually speaks French.

“But, June, YOU FINALLY SAW SOMETHING!” she exclaimed.

And that was how life began last night at around 7:30 on my quiet street in my quiet town.

This roomy dollhouse

I’m already in a MOOD and I just got here. I guess I should say I finally got here. It is not even 8:00 yet and every effing thing has gone wrong. Edsel is skulking around here like a C and I haven’t even yelled or stomped around, and frankly it’s annoying when someone is THIS tuned into your every mood.

When I got up today, everything was stupid. There’s a gigantic box that held furnace filters in the living room. My recycling is full (last week being my birthday, I got several boxes) and no way am I storing boxes in the snake shed. There’s another enormous box by the back door. (My HelloFresh came yesterday, and see above re boxes and the recycling bin, my new band name.)

This discombobulates me and I don’t like it. I feel like I live at Fred Sanford’s.

Also the sink was full of dishes, as I’d cooked last night (balsamic fig chicken with lemon-zested green beans and who am I?) and the dishwasher was full. Like my recycle bin. I put all those dishes away before feeding everyone this morning, then reloaded the dishwasher. Twas bugging me.

Then when I hoisted big ol’ Lily onto the dryer so she could eat, I noted … LITTER everywhere. The cats now use this litterbox system that has pellets instead of sand, which is neater in general but sometimes pellets go flying. Overnight we musta had some pellet-flying extravaganza.

I got the vacuum and the special vacuum attachment that goes at those pellets, but once I started, Lily panicked and flew off the dryer. Picture a flying football. Lily, like nature, abhors a vacuum and I know I use that line every time but come on.

So once I was done de-pelleting the laundry area, I chased her football self down and had to place her back on the dryer where, although she was clearly deeply offended by my actions and the way of my people, she was not deterred from eating.

Then, after pilling Edsel and bathing his foot which looks no better at all, I came in here to blog and?

Laptop was dead.

It may be working too intensely as I am, and I wouldn’t blame it for up and dying. But after fiddling around with it, I got it to restart and it’s in the middle of a goddamn update and must we update? Must we always need more, more more?

So that meant that for the first time since May 1, according to the photos I just uploaded, I’m at my desktop computer. Once I turned this computer on with my smile, and also opened doors with just a smile, I got my phone, thinking, You know, I haven’t plugged my phone in here in ages, and I’ll bet I need to upload a lotta photos.

One thousand seventy-five photos. Since May 1. Remember in the olden days when people took 12 pictures a year?

But before I could plug the phone into the computer, I had to get a cable. Mine had all died, and do your charging cables die, like, all the time? Not long ago I ordered a pack of three new cables and while I knew one of those was next to my bed, I cannot, for the life of me, find the other two.

WHERE ARE THEY?

The thing that annoys me is that anything could get lost in this roomy house. It’s a dollhouse. Were the other cables in the desk where the desktop computer is?

No.

Drawer next to bed?

No.

Cupboard, then. The goddamn cupboard?

No.

WHERE IN THE …

I gave up and used the one next to my bed, and now tonight I’ll go to bed and get ready to charge my phone and be all GOD DAMMIT.

Pa Ingalls never had this issue.

…Oh! I just found the other two. I opened the drawer where I assumed they’d be in the first place, and they’re in a box. In my mind they were out and exposed. I was just all, Let me move this box titled USB DATA CABLE and look for m’cables.

So I already have a mild headache, and I have 2,000 hours of work to do, and then my trainer, and somewhere in there I have to bathe Edsel’s foot again like I’m Mary Magdalene, or maybe it was the other Mary, dashboard Mary, and why did they pick two characters with the same name?

Really, when I think about it, I say dashboard Mary like it’s a thing and it likely is but I think my grandmother had someone else on her dashboard. Maybe it was St. Christopher. She had a KICK-ASS fairly large freestanding Mary statue that I think my uncle has and I will never inherit it, as he will likely offer it to one of his actually Catholic daughters, but I loved it. I love all old Catholic things like that. I have my grandfather’s cross with the last rites stuff inside of it. It’s the bomb.

If I happen to die of a virus or being 55, please last rite me even though I am not officially Catholic and they probably won’t honor my coupon.

Anyway, I do have to say that despite it taking 85 years to get here to my desktop and ALIGHT, it’s nice how big everything is on the desktop. You know what would make me use this more often? A comfortable chair. I bought an old wooden chair for this area. I got it from the antique shop, and while it’s delightful and charming, I feel like I’m sitting on your grandmother’s old brittle bones.

I really want this, but that’s insane, right? In the olden days, when we took 12 pictures a year, I could’ve written this off on m’taxes as I freelance and this is my work desk. But now they made it hard to write stuff off and I for one am offended, but will still eat on top of the dryer.

I mean. $204. And FREE shipping.

Please note I am not asking your opinion on the matter. Not really. A few days ago I saw a Facebook memory where I live streamed from the carwash and I saw my old cute car that I loved so much and why did that person have to plow into me and ruin it?

Anyway, in the Facebook Live I mention I got the $12 car wash and you have no idea how many people felt the need to comment. “I NEVER pay more than $5.” “$12? That’s too much.”

GOD, that’s rude. It really is. And over $12! So you can imagine I don’t want to really hear how people feel about a $204 chair I will not order.

Sorry. $204.99.

I imagine it has to be put together, right? See. That right there dissuades me. Plus also? Nothing in this room is pink. It’s all browns and greens.

Oooo!

All right, I have to go. I’m sure my mood will be sparkling soon.

Hah.

Love,
June

Pear-is

It’s 7:46 a.m. and we are all in the backyard right now. Iris is way over at the fence, eating grass. I feel like she never feels all that great these days; grass helps animals when they’re nauseated. I take her to my new probably-cute-but-how-can-you-know vet the first Saturday of August and I am glad.

Edsel is four inches from me, holding his bunny in his mouth and surveying his domain.

Milhous is sitting on the patio portion of the yard with his ears back like a devil.

And Lily, Lily of all people, has dashed off to portions of the yard unseen. There’s probably an all-you-can-eat buffet in back of the garage or something. That’s awful. Poor Lily. It’s just…Lily outside. It’s like me outside. What are we even doing here? This isn’t our place. Our place is indoors, on the confines of the couch or what have you.

So far today I’ve already given Edsel his possibly needless heart medicine, his definitely needed arthritis medicine, AND I’ve soaked his foot in his medicated shampoo and when did I become servant to a mutt that I got in a gas station parking lot in Mt. Airy?

Do you know what I need? A rake. One of those stiff rakes. The pears are falling off my tree again, and it recalls last year after my car accident, when I was so stiff that I couldn’t reach under the tree and get said fallen pears, and 9,39393,39303,49543 wasps made a home in my pear parts. My tree was the New York of pear trees. ‘Twas the big pear city.

It was Pear-is.

Anyway I don’t go IN to Lowe’s yet, but I might just order me a rake and have it sent, which I’m sure the deliveryman will delight over. Delivering a rake. Convenient!

Maybe I could do curbside. Are they still doing curbside? I’m not going into Lowe’s. It’s as busy as my m’pear tree in August.

Ah! Here’s Lily! Coincidentally she’s emerging from under the pear tree. I could get my phone and photograph everyone, but first of all you all know what everyone looks like and you know what my yard looks like, and never let it be said June Gardens didn’t squeeze every last drop out of this backyard circa 2020.

Hey, I need advice.

I am too scared to go in my shed now that I saw that snakeskin in there, which means I cannot access the birdseed. If you think in a million years I’m walking in there and OPENING A GARBAGE CAN, which is where the birdseed is. It’d be like when you open one of those gag gift things where the snake jumps out at you.

I don’t KNOW how I think a snake is going to open a garbage can. I just know he will.

My question was going to be where can I store my birdseed from here on out but I think I just solved it myself. I’ll just buy smaller amounts, so I can dump all of it into the feeders and have none left over, thereby solving the “where to store the seed cause it ain’t going in the garage” dilemma.

Not far from me, there’s a tiny locally owned hardware store that time forgot. Maybe I can get up my courage and my mask, head to the hardware store and get BOTH a rake and a small bag of birdseed.

June Gardens: problem-solver.

That hardware store inexplicably has mounted animals all over the walls. Ima guess the hardware store owner’s wife said, You are NOT displaying this moose in our home so he had to pop it up there in the store. This is why marriage is dumb.

When I agreed to move to Los Angeles, Marvin got us an apartment before I got there. “I decorated it a little,” he said. And he really did a great job! He got these cool midcentury modern displays for my snow globes. I used to collect snow globes. And he got all this cool quirky stuff to adorn our mantle.

But he also hung license plates in the living room. He thought it was perfectly acceptable to use license plates in the living room. He was aghast when I said they weren’t staying.

One new year’s eve, Ima hazard a guess that it was 1998 going into 1999, we had a party. In retrospect it wasn’t that fun of a party, as the guests were duds and I can say that because none of them read this blog. Don’t go to a party and not try. It’s awful.

Anyway, I had to work and he didn’t that week, so I asked him to head to the party supply store and get banners and streamers and those things you blow at midnight (my high school swim team) and little plates for snacks and napkins.

Nowadays I wouldn’t use paper for plates or napkins, because I am the very height of sophistication. Pear-is is in my backyard, after all.

I swear a pear just dropped as soon as I wrote that.

In my MIND, which is a terrible place to be, Marvin perhaps bought all black and silver accessories. Black paper plates. Silver napkins. Or maybe burgundy. That would be wintery and sort of post-Christmas-looking.

When I got home, not only had Marvin gone to the party supply store and bought the stuff, he’d even hung it up dutifully. And?

Smiley faces.

Smiley faces streamed across our dining room becomingly. The plates smiled up at me yellowly from the table.

Smiley-face napkins. Smiley-face noisemakers.

“What?” asked Marvin, whom I later divorced. “They were on special.”

Anyway.

It’s now 8:12 and I’d better shower before “going to” work. I had my trainer last night and wish to refresh this whole look I’ve got going.

As an update, Edsel is still four inches from me, his bunny at his side, Lily is lying under the hydrangea and now Iris and Milhous have disappeared to the all-you-can-eat buffet behind the garage.

Necessarily,
June

Relax, it’s Palmolive.

Friday evening, after my workweek, I was ready for the weekend, and by ready I mean I lay on my bed and cried while tears fell in my ears. I did that for quite awhile Friday; ’tis how I ready myself to PARRRRTAYYY. Actually, it’s been a long time since I cried, as I no longer have a soul.

Anyway I am not making this up; at around 7:30, Ned called, of all people. I haven’t talked to Ned in I don’t know how long. I know we were locked down, but it was definitely early in this process. April? ish?

We ended up talking for three hours, and he told me how he’d gone downtown to help with the destruction after the protests, and I told him … I don’t even know what I told him. Oh, I remember telling him how the lawn guy broke my storm door, and about how then a few days later a neighbor knocked on the door and there was no barrier and after 15 minutes standing in my threshold she said, “Oh, I’ve just been feeling terrible: aches, a fever, my lungs feel terrible.”

I know I told him that hair-raising tale.

And, you know, when I saw those pictures of people downtown with drills and so on, I told myself, Ned is in there somewhere. I just knew.

So it was nice to talk to him, to tell you the truth. It was good to catch up. It’s amazing that there’s anything to catch up ON when you’re mostly confined to home. But it turns out stuff happens to you anyway.

“I’ve really gotten sort of used to it,” said Ned. “I don’t really mind it that much anymore.”

We have Stockholm Syndrome.

Anyway, on Saturday morning I rushed Edsel to the vet, and by rushed I mean I got up, had coffee, did my trainer, so to speak, and then worried because Edsel had no collar.

His old collar wouldn’t work, and I’d ordered him a new one which arrives tomorrow, and didn’t think it’d be that big a deal for him to not have a collar for a few days until I considered EDSEL AT A VET, with DOGS meandering about, and does it annoy you to have to read year after year how life just sort of washes over me with no preparation or forethought on my part? Why don’t I have a BACKUP collar? I have backup eyeglasses. I have backup soap. My mother got me enough backup laundry detergent to last seven lifetimes like Shirley Maclaine.

I settled on a jaunty silk scarf for the Eds

when it occurred to me the vet might have something they could loan me. Turns out they have these leash things they can use like a collar, so Edsel did not have to arrive at the vet looking like a career girl from 1973.

I used my resistance band as a leash/collar to get him from my house to the car. Worked!

One might wonder why I HAVE a silk scarf, given all the outfits you’ve seen me in completed with the look. It had been on a purse. You know how purses were wearing scarves for awhile?

My point is this. And there is a point.

I dropped Eds off curbside, then went for a walk because it’s in a pretty neighborhood and I had time to kill.

Eventually, I thought, man, I feel sort of uncomfortable, and I asked my phone the temp and it turned out I was walking around in 90-degree heat. That meant what else could I do but zip over to Sonic and get a chili dog while Edsel convalesced. I was JUST BITING the first bite when

RING!

I knew that was gonna happen.

“He-woah?” I chewed, trying to sound professional and not at all like Elmer Fudd giving a blowie.

It was the vet, as I knew it would be, filling me in on all that was Edsel. First of all, he’s got some sort of fungal infection on his foot and now not only do I have to give him three pills in the morning and three at night, I also now have to bathe his foot in medicated shampoo

THREE TIMES A DAY, soaking it

TEN MINUTES AT A TIME

and I want you to know he doesn’t at all act like Madge’s clients with the Palmolive. “Dishwashing liquid!?”

Anyway, that is not my point, and I do have one.

“Tell me more about the heart condition,” said the vet, who frankly sounded cute. I’ll never know. The vet will forever be on the Dating Game with me behind a wall.

I’d written him a tome about Edsel but I sort of repeated all that, now with embellishment, and here’s what he said.

“Well, I’ve listened to his heart and I don’t think he does have congestive heart failure.”

You … you WHAT?

“We can’t be sure. We need an EKG and an ultrasound.” Eds has had an ultrasound at the last place, but the vet told me she wasn’t an expert at doing them, but that she’d seen enough to tell her he had congestive heart failure.

But what if she’s wrong?

We have to go to a specialist, in Charlotte, and it’s going to be 600 freaking dollars, but between you, me and the 10 others here, that’s 3 months of medication for us anyway. So if he doesn’t need this medication, you get the drift.

The vet is giving me a referral and in a few weeks I’ll take a personal day and Eds will put on his jaunty driving scarf and we’ll head to the big city for a heart test.

The first thing I thought about Sunday when I woke up is, “EDS MIGHT NOT BE DYING!”

Ever since I got the news about his heart last fall, I’ve been buying his food in four-pound bags so I won’t be stuck with extra. I have a plan with TinaDoris that her husband will come help me dig a hole. I’ve been living like this dog is dying and MAYBE HE ISN’T.

Oh my god.

So that was my big news this weekend, other than it was Hulk’s birthday this weekend and he proposed.

It’s been a big weekend, I guess.

Newsworthily,
June

Hawaii 5-5. Or, spine-tacular.

“It’s my afterbirth day,” I said to Miss Doxie in a text, and then I found a justice of the peace who would marry me in the simple suit I’d picked out for my cat wedding.

Really, you need to come here every day or you miss things.

Anyway, hello. Yesterday was my birthday,

a birthday I am having in the midst of a pandemic and I know I am not the first or the last. People were nice anyway and I am now on my TWO WEEKS OF LOCKDOWN because who was too social? Was it me?

I know my mother enjoys counting how many calls and cards she got after her birthday, kind of a tally of how important she is to everyone, but I never do that. I did notice, however, that I got messages from my doctor, my credit union, my mammogram place, my dentist, my insurance agent and even

my chiropractor. Who’s Karen? Are they insulting me?

The Lottie Blancos, who live 45 minutes away, zipped over to drop off 8 pounds of food, and see my little house back there? Ima be growing too large for it. Note my sparkly face mask from Faithful Reader Paula H&B.

I was kind of hoping it’d be a light workday but

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

and I didn’t get to have lunch or fun or anything all day, but when the workday was done, there was a knock on my door and there was TinaDoris! She came over with a card and we chatted a bit till Marty Martin showed up, bearing cupcakes. She didn’t have one and please see above references to TinaDoris being hot. (And by “above” I mean all photos of her from 2011 to the present.) This is why.

Marty Martin and I, who know we are hot on the inside, ate, drank and merried ourselves in a simple suit. We realized I’ve spent, like, every birthday with him for the last 5 years.

I also got cookies and chocolate-covered strawberries from my mother, and if TinaDoris had been here she’d have said no to them, too. Then she might have looked in the mirror and reached for her simple suit to marry herself.

I have to get over that line. Not to mention when have I ever opted for simple anything. My tablecloth alone answers that Q.

Anyway, as pandemic birthdays go it was not too shabby. At the end of the day, I watched Real Housewives, and maybe that sounds terrible to you but it was a perfect birthday extravaganza ending for me.

Double-five-ly,
June

I can’t drive FIFTY-FIVE. You’re welcome.

I awoke this morning to this from Marvin:

That does, indeed, wrap it up. And look, I am not officially 55 until this afternoon. I was born on a Friday at 4:52 p.m. Happy hour.

My grandmother, the one I’ve turned into, told me on one of my much-earlier birthdays that if you are very careful and quiet, right at the minute of your birthday you can hear your number click over. Every year I say I’m gonna listen for my click and I forget. One year I was IN THE CAR on my birthday, driving to Michigan, and had NOTHING BETTER TO DO, and forgot.

Further reports as developments warrant.

I began my nonstop partying last night, with a socially distant-ish visit to Chris and Lilly. We were outside or on their screened-in porch the whole time, and we kept far apart. Their kids think I am berserk.

I went there technically to see their new cats. A few months ago, Lilly was at work at their feed and garden store and heard rustling in the straw and instead of screaming and getting a boy she just no-nonsense-ly went over and looked. There was an angry gray feral cat who’d given birth to, you know, kittens.

This is one of the kittens. How enraged does this make you? How many SCORES of kittens have I had in this house, both found and delivered to me by the shelter, and were there any magnificent Siameseses? There were not.

Chris and Lilly also saved a sleek beautiful soft black kitten, but both hate me and photos were scarce.

Anyway, I loved them both and wish to marry them in a simple ceremony where I will wear a well-cut suit. And the other good news, other than my upcoming nuptials, is they have the mom cat and were readying her to be spayed when SHE WAS SOMEHOW PREGNANT AGAIN and I don’t know how that works, but now she’s in their garage with EIGHT MORE KITTENS, and she hates everything including Chris and Lilly who are now taking care of 13 cats, 10 of them hers, and situations like this make me chortle.

They’ve got, like, three crates mooshed together, with this extra room all covered up in a drape, so she can get away and swear to herself and watch Bravo.

Anyway, meet my next kitten, unless the person who already said he was taking this kitten takes it, but I’ve already arranged his mysterious execution, so…

So if anyone’s in the market for a kitten, the rest look all black or maybe eventually gray. There are seriously eight of them, but really seven because that one up there is mine. There is nothing wrong with owning 4 cats.

After we were done looking at kittens I looked at the rest of the animals, and how tiring it must be to have me over.

That was a line from Young Frankenstein.

Anyway, then we had homemade madeleines and homemade peach ice cream, which it turns out is better than ice cream you buy. C & L gave me a honeysuckle candle I burned the minute I got home, some lovely little flowered notebooks (I adore little notebooks), a flowered bag I put my makeup in already and a really cool pink leather bookmark that she and her sister MADE. I follow her sister on Instagram and love everything she makes.

They also gave Edsel a chew toy for his birthday that he took into the other room and chewed on his own for like 30 minutes. Edsel never leaves me, but he did to go chew his toy.

In all, ’twas a lovely evening.

Tonight, Marty Martin is coming over to sit distantly from me and celebrate from across the yard at each other, and after tonight I am going two weeks with no human contact and I will monitor every twinge.

‘Tis the way of my people. My sheeple, of you’re one of those.

Annually,
June

And the princess had proofreading

I’m gonna tell you about this day.

I work with a person who is just great. She’s so organized. Last week, on the 9th, whenever that was, she said, “June, next Tuesday, Ima need you all day long. I’ve already gotten the permissions and go-aheads and blessings and the Pope has been here to wave his hand around.”

OK, I said. Then on Friday, whatever day that was, I said, “We’re still on for Tuesday?”

“Yep. All day. If you can’t get it done Tuesday, you have till Wednesday morning to finish up.”

I reminded the other copy editors yesterday. “I’m on an all-day project tomorrow, don’t forget.”

When I woke up this morning, my first thought was, Somebody’s gonna give me work to do even though I have an all-day assignment. I was psychic or something. I was Dionne Warwick. And sure enough, when I logged on today, there were already several messages. “June, can you do this?” “Hey, June, this here’s for later today.” “June?” “Say, June.” “Oh, Juuuuuune…”

And so on.

I kept having to write back. “Just a reminder that I’m booked ALL DAY today.”

There’s a scene in Sex and the City, where Charlotte calls Samantha, and Samantha says, “Charlotte, I told you. I’m going to be masturbating. ALL DAY. I told you I’d be doing that.”

I kept thinking of that every time I sent that message.

So anyway, the organized person sent me the work when she said she would, and did I mention she’s a dream? She sent me the Very Large Assignment, and let me tell you it was large, Marge. And detailed. I was working on it all day. I told you I’d be doing that.

So I started, and I worked, and I wrote, “I’m booked ALL DAY” messages as they came in, prodding at me via email and our chat feature and a singing telegram from a singer dressed as Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee. I worked through lunch, and I worked through dinner.

At 5:30, when a normal person might be winding down for the day, there was a knock on my door. “You got the paint?”

It was my neighbor. I’d forgotten that this was the day he was coming to start to paint my porch ceiling. So I got out the paint and the brushes and the tape and the tray and the Pope and the Chef Boy-Ar-Dee.

We dragged the furniture off the porch, and he undid the fan from the ceiling, and I washed the blades and then I ran back in to keep working.

I got a message. “Can you finish the work tonight?”

Tonight? I thought I … I thought I had till morning. Oh, dear.

Just then, PING!

A reminder that I had my trainer in 10 minutes. SON OF A …

I spoke to the person in charge of the work I was doing. “Oh, do your trainer,” she said. “It’ll help your energy. Can you get the work done by 9:30?” I really like the person in charge of the work, and my job so rarely asks me to work late, so I said OK. I worked out with my trainer, and taking my delicious water back to the laptop, I began working again.

“Hey, June, do you have a rag?” asked the guy who was painting my ceiling.

I got a rag.

“I just need a bucket.”

I got the bucket. I also kicked the bucket, so stressed was I. Elizastress, I’m comin’ to join ya, honey.

PING!

“Hey, June!”

Oh, SON OF A FUCKING …

I had a DATE tonight. A DATE. We were supposed to meet up and I’d 100% forgotten. I told him what was happening over there, as I tried to copy edit and message him at the same time lest I miss my 9:30 deadline.

Oh, lort. There goes the end of that fairytale romance. And the princess had proofreading, and they lived happily estranged forever.

So that’s rescheduled, allegedly, and I just settled down to panickedly return to work when

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

WHAT? WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT?

“Hello, June, I’m the camera doorbell person you scheduled for this time 20 days ago back when life was sedate.”

And that is when I ran an ax clean across my own head.

I got rid of that guy, returned to my work, and after a relaxing 13-hour day I uploaded the job.

It wouldn’t upload.

I tried again.

It wouldn’t upload.

I took the ax out of my head and tried again, ready to weep.

Finally I sent it a different way and the person in charge of the work got it, and wrote me back five minutes later.

“It came through all messed up. Can we go through it together?”

Before I was able to go out and throw myself off a building, she wrote back. “Oh, it came through okay the second time! Thanks, June!”

And that is my day so far. It’s only 9:43. Any number of other things could happen, and let me tell you I warmly embrace them all.

Splish

Before I begin, let me mention that Milhous is at the water dish, and Edsel came in from outside wanting water, so with his 10-year-old, bad-hearted, arthritic self he minced over there, saw Milhous drinking, and walked away.

“You can share!” I said brightly, injecting myself into the dynamic that is my pets. “Everyone can drink from the bowl! Let’s pretend we’re antelopes at the watering hole!”

But Edsel wouldn’t do it. He walked away, head low.

Oh, I was worried. He needs his water. He’d been in the bedroom with me all night, not drinking (I should really put a bowl in there, shouldn’t I?) and then he went outside in the July sun and now he’s acquiescing to a yellow cat.

splish splish splat

splish splish splaoot

When Milhous is done delicately lapping at the water bowl, he enjoys putting his foot in there and splashing the water all across the kitchen floor. It’s why I’m having him put down later today. “Edsel, now he’s just playing with the water like an elephant,” I said. “Let’s go back and get water.”

He wouldn’t do it. He allowed Milhous this private time and won’t be doing any interviews of him during this trying time.

GODDAMMIT. So now Edsel is over on his living room bed, probably dying of dehydration, while Milhous is satisfiedly cleaning his toes.

As you can see, there’s a can of paint on my floor that should be up on my porch ceiling. I went with Meander Blue.

I got it Sunday afternoon but didn’t see my neighbor and felt bad knocking on his door saying, The paint is here! Come paint for me for free on a Sunday! I’ll just wait till I see him, which I guarantee you will be in the next 46 seconds. He’s a very visible neighbor.

For someone in isolation, I got out and about this weekend and am riddled with coronavirus now.

On Saturday I had to get up fairly early because I had my trainer. Whose cockamamie idea was it to see her 3x a week? Now all I ever do is get out a sports bra. I see her ass again tonight. Yeesch.

Anyway I got up early and had nutritious coffee so I’d be at my best during my workout, and then as soon as I was done with my rigorous Rocky training I had to STAMPEDE to the kitten room and get them in a carrier, oh the breezy getting-ferals-in-a-container technique, and head to the shelter so they could get their shots, which were at this point overdue because GETTING FERALS IN CONTAINERS.

I did it, though, by putting spoons of baby food at the back of each carrier. I was able to just pick up Hissy like a normal cat and get her in there, but Fitz slowly, slowly oh my god SLOWLY went in there. The noises they made on the way to the shelter were noises I never heard cats make. When we got there, it was, you know, Saturday at the shelter, so I sat outside on a corona bench waiting my turn and getting a viral load.

I looked in the carriers and Fitz turned his back to me, which will break my heart forever.

After their shots were done, the shelter vet came out and said she thought they should keep them there, as they have taming-feral techniques that might help Fitz better than I was able to. I didn’t know this was the END of Hissy and Fitz, and I got my usual combination of sadness and relief.

This was the last picture I ever took of Fitz, who didn’t hang around my cats really at all but did enjoy seeing Milhous, who ran in there whenever I opened the door to take out litter or refill water (always water with that cat).

Anyway, the drive home was a lot quieter than the drive there. It took about an hour to clean that room of the myriad kitten things.

I have these five girl cousins from Detroit. A few times a year, my aunt and uncle would round them all up and bring them over to gramma’s (the nice one, not the one I turned into). The whole weekend would be chaos and jokes and things getting moved, and then they’d go. I’d stand on the porch with gramma, waving goodbye till their car was out of sight. When we’d go back in, she’d inevitably end up saying, “Isn’t it so quiet and sad?”

As an only child who was basically a piece of furniture over at gramma’s—I was there constantly—I could see how the atmosphere was … different, and yes, sad, but I was also completely overloaded and relished the quiet of just the click of her maple leaf clicking back and forth on her cuckoo clock.

Anyway, wasn’t it so quiet and sad Saturday after the kittens were gone? No more mysterious thumps coming from that room. No more things being knocked over. I hope Fitz gets unferal and has a good life. Hissy will be 100% fine.

The good news is Edsel didn’t have his usual after-kitten depression because he didn’t get to know this batch.

On Sunday, I was so bored I couldn’t even stand it, so I got in the car and drove around. I drove past my old house, and down past the neighbors whom I had given puppy Ava after Edsel ate her.

I think it’s been four years since that day. I was kind of thinking of Ava when

THERE THEY WERE!

The whole family was outside! I rolled down my window. I’ve had 87 cars since I lived there.

“JUNE!!” they all shouted, running to the car, including

growed-upildy Ava! Oh she’s such a wire-haired muffin.

I sat outside and talked to the neighbors for 15 minutes, which I mentally timed because that’s catch-COVID time.

I was so glad to hear what was new and to see Ava and their collection of lovely cats, including a silky-haired beautiful black one and a grand, bob-tailed orange one who looks like a lion. Basically I left my dog and cats to go visit other dogs and cats.

I knew the dad of the house had been a doctor, but what I learned that day was he was a doctor FOR THIS MILL. All his patients had come from the mill that everyone in this neighborhood worked for. Isn’t that weird?

Small world. Wouldn’t wanna paint it. You know what else I don’t wanna paint? My porch ceiling. Where’s my neighbor?

Anyway on Sunday I ended up going for a long walk with a neighbor from THIS neighborhood, my neighbor R. So now I’ve done so much socializing that I have nine kinds of The Virus.

You can see I have humidity curl up at m’forehead, whereas the rest of my hair has refused to curl lately and is back to looking like insulation, a thing I mentioned on social media last night but it’s true. I’ve no idea what’s up other than I haven’t had one of my specific cuts for curly hair since, you know, November. Also, despite two citronella candles and DEET-filled bug spray, all of my skin was eaten last night and I am writing to you with just bones.

I’d better go, which I’m sure you’re sad about seeing as I have talked about pets for nine hours.

Love,
Jooooooooon

The one where June lets life just roll off her

Yesterday was absurd.

I’d had slowness at work, which is stressful because you have to account for every hour so we can bill someone or other, and if you have hours and hours of, yeah, I sat around waiting for work, they frown on that. But if there’s no work, there’s no work.

Anyway, I had an appointment to take the kittens to the shelter for their feral foster shots and I told everyone who mattered at work that I was taking an actual lunch to do so. All morning, it was morte. Fin. Devoid of activity at work. I was doing busywork.

So I began the process of attempting to touch Fitz, who still only lets me pet him tentatively and only when he feels like it. The best way to get him near me is to whip out baby food, and thanks to whomever suggested that. I got the baby food out and

POP!

there was the head of little Fitz. Hissy I’d picked up like a normal kitten and placed into the carrier. She’s practically tame.

Fitz was happily eating baby food and I

picked him up!!!!

!!!!

But when I placed him in the carrier, he

FREAKED THE FUCK OUT and hissed and spitted and frankly I was scared to death of him. Little feral kittens can fuck you UP.

He got away, into the far reaches of the closet, and nothing would touch him the rest of the day. Meanwhile, Hissy opened the carrier and walked out on her own, joining Fitz in the back of the closet.

My grandmother used to tell stories that ended, “And I just set and cried.”

No one was answering at the shelter and I was due there in 15 minutes. Finally, through a series of Facebook messages and repeated calls, I got someone who told me we can try again this weekend, and in the meantime, come get food and another carrier.

I’m going to feed them IN the carrier, so they have to go in and out of there and see the carrier like it’s no big deal. Fitz was on a hunger strike till this morning when he finally creeped in. It’s the first I’ve seen of him, as he’s back to hating me.

So I was stressed and weepy and my shoulders were past my brain when I returned to my computer and had 3949459404034 work messages. CAN YOU DO THIS NOW?

It’s not even supposed to work that way. There’s a person in charge of distributing the work. They should ask her if I’m available rather than sending a frantic email expecting that I hover there like a spider awaiting things. If they’d have asked her, she’d have said, “Oh, June is ACTUALLY TAKING A LUNCH today and trying to do good in the world and will be back at 1:00.”

So I killed self to get the work done on time, and naturally it was extra-detailed and frustrating work, and by 6:00 I understood why people climbed to water towers with shotguns.

So here’s what I did.

I fed all these goddamn animals, including the ungrateful fosters.

Then, I did Tracy Anderson. I did the shit out of Tracy Anderson. Gwynneth Paltrow has never pounded Tracy Anderson the way I did last night.

Then I took a stompy walk. Last night when I was trying to sleep I noted my shins hurt and I recalled stomp stomp stomping around my neighborhood. At one point, I was down at the end of my street, which is just one house down, but I was at the dead-end part, which is a little wildernessy. Wild roses grow down there, and the grass is pretty tall. That’s why, as you can imagine, I

jumped out of my fekking skin

when something brushed my ankle.

It was Milhous.

“Oh my GOD, Mil,” I said, petting him as we wound around my ankles. He just APPEARS places, and as I said that just now, I’m typing outside on my patio and I looked up and he’s standing at the end of the yard all of a sudden, like a stallion or that Mutual of Omaha stag. Was it Mutual of Omaha that had the stag?

Anyway he looks magnificent.

Near the end of my stompabout, I stopped to talk to Haint Blue neighbor, who said, “You know your cat’s following you, don’t you?” And behind me with his tail curled seductively was Milhous. No, I’d had no idea he’d followed me beyond that alley.

When I got home, I played tepid Blu with Edsel, where I throw Blu way less enthusiastically than I used to, for his heart and all. I’d considered taking him on stomp walk but I knew I’d go too fast. Some mornings now when I wake up he won’t get off his bed. He used to leap up and wag at me before my eyes were even open, just magically knowing I’d woken up. Now I get up and go to his bed and pet him there, and help him up on bad days.

Once he’s up, he’s good. It’s like recharging a phone.

After Tracy Anderson and stomp walk and fetching Blu, I took the world’s longest hottest shower, and by the time I was done, I felt better. I drank several small bottles of the coldest water (I set the fridge to really cold. Is that bad for actual food? I ask because I have actual food now) and got into bed.

I slept like the dead and now I’m ready for another day. So far I let everyone out and watched all three cats pee in unison outside. Works for me that they pee out here. Then I watched Edsel and Milhous tag team a squirrel, and it was awful, but he got away and is warning all his squirrel friends. The cicadas are already chirping and I kind of love summer mornings when cicadas chirp. Or rattle. What is it they do?

On Monday, I’ll let you know if those poor feral kittens finally got their shots. There may be more stomp walks in my future.

Emotionally,
June

A three-COVID day

Current situation: I’m in my Frida robe, and thanks, autocorrect, for calling it a “Friday robe.”

My lawn guy, Victor, is here, along with his family, and they are mowing and trimming and edging my lawn and I feel like the Rich White Lady of Millhouse Mansion, in here, celebrating Frida in all her Hispanic glory and yet being all, “You guys do my lawn out in the sticky heat.”

Am conflicted.

The important thing is that Victor does not fear snakes and I do, so I am basically paying him to encounter them. I have given him strict instructions to not murder snakes, as that makes me sad. They’re just over there living their snake lives. They shouldn’t be killed for lounging in bushes or gardens, doing no harm. Other than scaring me to death.

Meanwhile, the ferals and I are emotionally readying ourselves for a trip to the shelter, where they are getting their shots. I put off this trip as long as I safely could because I did not know how I was gonna lure Fitz into a carrier if I couldn’t even LOOK at him without him grabbing his hair by the roots and screaming for the police. However, he now lets me pet him when the moon is right and the feelin’s right, so I have a plan to put a little baby food way back in the carrier if I have to, then shutting the door faster than you can say, “Heyyyy. Why Fitz…heyyyyy.”

Hissy, meanwhile, is 100% a normal kitten, almost, which makes it not 100% but whatev. She runs to the door when I walk in here, she leaps up here on the chair and sits with me. Yesterday she even climbed on my lap and slept.

Now someone just needs to adopt them.

Not only do I have to go get COVID at the shelter, I also have to swing on over to (Arby’s Arby’s—does anyone remember that commercial?) the vet and get Edsel’s arthritis medicine. Plus also too I am CLEAN OUT of canned kitten food, so if I forget to ask for some at the shelter (what’s the over/under that I will forget?) I also have to get COVID at the grocery store. It’s a three-COVID day.

Meanwhile I had a dream about Ned that affected my mood. Do you ever get those? Among other things, he had painted his nails silver and I was over there in the dream thinking, In a million years I did not think Ned would paint his nails silver. Unless it was for Halloween. He’s one of those Halloween people.

Anyway, it bothered me, and I hate setbacks like that.

Fortunately I will soon be battling coronavirus, what with my gadding about all day today, so that will distract me.

Cough,
June