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The Story I meant to deliver in May!

Torpid. That’s how I feel as I lie on my deck in a puddle of sunshine. The thermometer says 78 degrees, my angel fountain is splashing merrily, all my flowers have burst open and my kitty duo is lazing beside me in a little wire cage I devised to enable them to experience the great outdoors.

My birthday is three days away, and because it seems most every cat I’ve lived with has been born in spring, I celebrate theirs at the same time. This brings a tear to my eye, as it’s Truffle’s first birthday since his death day. He was my soul brother cat, dressed in the white and smoke pantaloons of a Himalayan

Spread eagle, with a stack of magazines at my sunbathed feet, I hear the faint sucking sound that hummingbirds make. “Wow! Mom! Look!” The cats are saying. It’s their first humm-bird, as I call it, sighting and their eyes are as round as Frisbees. They talk in chirping sounds as the emerald bird’s back glints gold, and its cravat shines like rubies. It sucks nectar from my peach-colored lilies and then teases the cats by hovering near their cage.

Call me sentimental, but I believe this is contact from Truffle and my father, who was also born in May.

So, after about half an hour, my fur friends get fussy and I return them to the great indoors. I, on the other hand, can’t get enough of the sun so I return to the deck with this computer. I’ve told myself that I can take all week off from work, but as I read articles in the magazine I’m published in, I long to fire up the keys lest I lose my talent.

Midway into this monologue, I sense something shadowy from the corner of my eye. It’s Rocky: a gorgeous orange-bellied squirrel that has made a few visits to me since Truffle’s death. I call him Rocky with reverence, as I was lucky enough to sit and interview the man who created “Rocky and his Friends.” In fact, Alex Anderson is in my book.

But back to the tale: If I’d stayed still I swear he was headed to the glass back door and to chat with my cats. But when I stir, he scrambles back over the fence and eyes me with his bulging chocolate peepers.

I place several shelled peanuts on a long branch but this time it’s a stand-off. Twice before, he came to my hand and shyly took nuts from it.

“Hi, friend,” I say to him. “Thank you for coming back. I won’t hurt you. I love you.”

And I marvel once again when he minces down the fence and perches within reach. I gingerly extend a hand and he politely takes the nut in it. He repeats this thrice, flounces his bottle brush tail and whisks up the tree to sit in high branches and chatter at me.

I return to the great indoors where my two house squirrels are coiled together on a chair, dreaming. And I feel blessed to be in the company of animals . . .

No Wimps Allowed!

OK, not to be confusing, but I’m writing this at present on a splendid autumn day. I’m sitting on a park bench that I assembled myself – oh, man, is it cockeyed – and looking across our yard to the sea beyond. It looks like a blueberry pie with a meringue of the Santa Cruz Mountains on top.

The sun’s benediction is short-lived bliss, however, because the shadows of the surrounding towering Monterey Pines are extending themselves earlier and longer each day. There is a subtle play of golden light, warmth and chill now that harkens winter and laces my joy with a sense of longing. I reminisce about my morning . . .

To take the head off my sadness, I take a bike ride along Ocean View Boulevard in Pacific Grove and notice a couple dozen other cyclists pedaling two abreast. This irks me and I think, “Outa’ my way, morons!” as I pass them, red helmet down, a finger poised to strike my bike bell without warning.

I’m so nice.

They’re wearing colorful (fey) biker skivvies and have orange numbers on their tail lights but don’t seem to be speeding. Is this a race, or what?

A great V of pelicans seems to be guiding them, until a few stop to rest for a moment. Ever the reporter, I dismount and ask them where they’re going. I’m blown away when I find out they are peddling from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

“Wow! That’s about 400 miles, huh?” I enthuse, all friendly now.

“No, about 500,” replies a mouth from beneath a helmet that resembles the new BMW hood. “We stop every day,” she adds, like a disclaimer.

I muse that if I were her, I’d want a massage, haute cuisine and satin sheets on my pit stops.

I loop back and notice shards of glass in the street. One of the cyclists warns me about it and I thank him, guilty that I ever had a nasty little thought in my head. Then I decide to pay it forward by plucking and kicking as much glass out of the street as I can.

Technically, I have not done a good deed because I’m telling you about it. You’re supposed to keep it to yourself. But if it inspires you to do a little good after you read this, then I’ll gladly be a braggart.

Anyway, on my way back home one of the group members flags me down.

“God, it’s a beautiful day,” he says. “Do you live around here?”

“Thirty-three years,” I brag, wanting to add “among the gray whales and the monarchs and the otters and . . .”

“You are one lucky lady.”

I blush.

“How do you get to Pacific Grove High School?”

At this point I make an arse of myself because I can’t remember the names of the streets. This isn’t Mental Pause because I’ve never been able to figure out the strange convergence of streets near the school.

Anyway, I point him in the general direction . . .

About half an hour later, as I pass the high school in my car, what do I see on the football field? A sea of multi-colored pup tents.

No Ritz-Carlton for these troopers. Obviously, biking treks are not for wimps . . .



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