Yesterday was a busy one, back in my own personal little Twilight Zone<tm>.  We’re having quite the heat spell: according to the news, this is the hottest year on record, with thirty two days over ninety degrees, sixteen of them this month.  So naturally the storms are getting interesting too.

So interesting, in fact, that the tree out back is giving me fits.  It has been quite a useful tree, anchoring one half of various antenna schemes and providing shade for the greater portion of the yard.  Unfortunately it’s also a friendly tree, occasionally introducing itself to Floyd, the older gentleman who lives in the house in back.  Every now and then it threatens to drop a branch (or six) into Floyd’s yard.  Floyd, being a retired fellow, with what is apparently way too much time on his hands, spends rather a lot of it fixated on our tree.  He can tell if the tree is planning to drop him a present way before we, the dog, and most tree surgeons can forecast it.

Floyd (I call him Floyd, although my wife probably knows his name – she knows everyone) seems to be a really nice guy.  Or at least that’s what the wife says.  Floyd turns out to be a real passive-aggressive fence-erector once you get to know him.  He’s very helpful to the wife, although she seems to recall that he becomes much more helpful in concert with the amount of cleavage she is showing.  Since I am completely without cleavage, Floyd doesn’t feel the normal rules apply and he’s free to let fly little comments about the tree.  And the grass.  And if you wait long enough, probably the color of the house.

Floyd is married.  I had the pleasure of meeting the wife right after meeting him.  Of course, when I say that I met her, I mean that I heard some horrific screech, punctuating his words then totally cutting him off.  It didn’t take a psychologist to figure out that this had to be his wife.  It struck me then why Floyd had so much time to contemplate trees.  Of the two of them, Floyd is going to die first (if he gets his wish).

I have to mention that I got home from work to this circus.  My sister-in-law had just gotten out of the Happy Place<tm>, my exceedingly brave nephew was on a very tall (anything over 5′) ladder, and Floyd was giving directions, in the form of barely audible barbs.  For some reason, all of his sentences ended with the word Pal.

Move the ladder over there, Pal.  Try this bone saw, Pal. Please get me out of here, Pal.

To make a convoluted story even longer, the piece of tree that let go was v-shaped.  It fell onto another perfectly v-shaped branch, essentially locking itself in place.   We roped the sucker off, so it wouldn’t land in Floyd’s yard or (heaven forbid) scratch his fence.   We yanked, pulled, hollered, and threatened to tie the rope to the car but the branch wouldn’t budge.

We were joined at that point by Marshall, the smart cocker.  Since it was a nice day, he decided to get into his pool for a bit, then help by being under the parts of tree that were threatening to hurl themselves groundward (much like my hair).  When I made mention of this, Floyd was not impressed, making some sort of crack about Marshall being a loud dog.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that Floyd pointed out the tree issue, but one does not take it out on another man’s dog.  Especially Marshall, everybody’s best friend.  I briefly wondered what Floyd’s just dessert would be then was brought back to reality by my nephew yelling to tug on the branch again.  It was then I remembered Mrs. Floyd and realized that Floyd already had gone to hell; we were just innocent bystanders observing his eternal damnation.

My wife further interrupted things just to announce that we had ten minutes til it was time to take Ren the cat (aka Satan) to the vet.  It is at times like these that I wonder if I’m not in some sort of purgatory myself.

The next voice from above turned out to be the nephew, hanging upside-down from the ladder, sawing away at the errant branch with all his might.  Sis-in-law knocked on the tree branch and pronounced the whole tree dead.  Apparently she can tell that way.  Apparently they discharged her too soon.

Finally we heard the crack that indicated the main branch was sawed mostly through and I gave a huge pull on the ropes, hoping that no one and nothing got hurt.  Terrible visions of pain and destruction went through my head, many relating to this actual event.  Yanking like a madman, I took off in the other direction and head all sorts of snapping.  Shifting to second gear, I pulled harder.  When I stopped, I was in the midst of tree all over the ground: I had attempted to pull off a dead branch but pulled down almost half of the tree.

This was not only amusing but relief-inducing.  People were throwing around figures like three to five thousand dollars to have the tree professionally removed.  This would be three to five thousand dollars that we do not have.

My reverie was cut short by My Little Commandant, reminding me it was time to go to the vet.


We call the cat Satan because he can be truly evil when he sets his mind to it but all in all he’s a really good cat.  He weighs twenty-two pounds and is almost as big as Marshall.  He’s frighteningly long.  He doesn’t seem to mind the vet much and they love him to death.  He likes to sit there while everyone fawns over him.

Today’s issue was some sort of hair loss.  Ren is diabetic and gets shots twice a day.  Suddenly the hair on his ears is coming off a little and they seem to be sensitive.  There are also two patches on the back of his legs.  The vet, a real sweetheart, was completely flummoxed.  No changes in appetite, eating, or behavior.  No smell, itching, or discharge.  We decided to go slow, with antibiotics.

Meanwhile, Ren was not in good humor.  He tolerates a lot of poking and prodding but he reached his limit rather early.  At this point he proceeded to make sounds we have never heard before, especially out of a cat.  He started with a low growl, like when he catches a mouse, but modulated it up in pitch to where he sounded like a small feline siren.  We fluctuated between horror and hilarity.  The poor vet tech had to back off before she lost any of her parts, as Ren has his claws and was hissing like mad by this point.

Fortunately his torture ended as ours began.  It was time to load him back into his carrier.  We purchased the largest one we could and he’s still too big for it.  He will go into it by himself when he’s in the mood but he was pretty far from in the mood.  After Branch Mangling, I was not in the mood to carry twenty two pounds of feline fury, even though he was behaving.  My wife did not think it was funny when I offered the next patient (with a dog) the use of the cat.  He said he already had one.  I offered another one.

By the time we got home, all I could feel was aching limbs caused by aching tree limbs, and Monty Python’s Lumberjack Song keeps running through my head.

Oh, I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK, I sleep all night and I work all day.