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Hopeful Monsters

When I was a kid, the only pets I could have were hermit crabs and freshwater fish. As hard as I tried with them, the hermit crabs preferred pinching to petting, and the fish had such a high rate of turnover that I had to devote a whole section in my diary to little RIP tombstones.


I vowed to get a dog as soon as I reasonably could. And then I needed a cat, because the dog needed a companion. And then a friend found a cat who needed a home. And so on.


So, for exactly half my life, there's never been a time when I've lived without an animal. And now we have lots. Which means a lot of effluvium.


And love. So much lots of love.


Jasper howls when the phone rings and when Reed practices saxophone. Watching him try not to howl is like watching someone struggle not to vomit: his body takes over. I always think of the movie Zootopia, when the one wolf says to the other, "Quit it, you're gonna start a howl."


Blue loves to eat more than any creature I've ever known with the possible exception of me. Sometimes his enthusiasm exceeds the capacity of his belly. We forgive him because he's very soft, and he plays a mean game of fetch with his catnip mice, and he crawls under the covers with you on a cold winter night and tucks into the nook of your belly and purrs you to sleep.


Skeeter is the keeper of the secrets of the universe. And Reed's bunkmate.


Stevie enjoyed helping me make the bed the other day, and she didn't even poop on it.


Morgan le Fay, our badass lady cat, loves her human family but despises the other animals. Skeeter and Blue get a kick out of tormenting her. Occasionally household objects get broken.


Birds are directly descended from dinosaurs: T. rex to sparrow. Hopeful monsters.


Late afternoon is preening time. When I go out to sit on a step in the backyard, Laverne and Buffy come running to huddle under my bent legs and peek out from under my elbows. Phoebe enjoys a good scritch between her wings. Raven's nickname is Cheap Shot.


Olive, Daisy, Teddi, and Alice lived in a big blue box in my office for their first two months, then in a pen Sean built in the garage for the next two months. They made their backyard debut just in time for the no-shit portion of winter.


Olive is queen of the toadstool statue that Sean accidentally stole from our neighbors Susan and Steve. When it became clear to me that returning it was not high on the priority list and I began to fret out loud to Susan, she decided it would be more merciful to bequeath it to our chickens. And we are very grateful.


"What do you want to do when you grow up?"

"Be James Herriott."


"What do you want to do when you retire?"

"Live on a farm with a bunch of animals."



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