Smoky

Thursday, 1 December 2005, 19:39 | Category : Kudzu Stories
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I don’t know why my daddy decided he wanted a cat. It wasn’t like he ever admitted liking animals as pets, although I think we all saw through his bluff. But we had a dog – a miniature dachschund named Ginger – and I don’t recall any of us kids asking for a cat. So I guess Smoky was Daddy’s idea. I do remember going with him to get Smokey, at te house of someone who worked with him. He was a beautiful gray cat, a Russian Blue. I don’t remember much of the early days – I was maybe 12 – but I do remember how Ginger, even though she was smaller than Smoky (who must have been fully grown when we got him), completely dominated that cat. She would shove her way between Smoky and his food bowl, and Smoky just took it. He wasn’t afraid of dogs – more than once I saw him face down much larger dogs, including a boxer that thought he had cornered him on the porch one day. But he never stood up to a 10-pound dachschund. Smoky did tangle regularly with other neighborhood cats, however, having some memorable fights. I have a vivid memory of an early Sunday morning brouhaha with a large tabby from down the street, which took place over our front yard and two neighbor’s front yards, with my mother following them with a rolled-up newspaper which she would throw at them, while yelling “SMOKY, YOU’RE GOING TO WAKE UP THE NEIGHBORHOOD!”. The Railsbacks, across the street, particularly loved that one, although Mrs. Railsback was terrified of Smoky. She would come to visit, and Smoky would sometimes run into the house – he was an outside cat, but was always trying to get in, especially after he got in unnoticed one day and found a German chocolate cake cooling on the kitchen table. So when he would run in, my mother would chase him down and grab him, and throw him back outside. He would hiss and spit and “rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” loudly when this happened, but never tried to scratch or bite. Nonetheless, Mrs. Railsback was deathly afraid of that cat.

So it was a little ironic that Smoky died in her garage. Smoky’s one unvanquishable foe was a large Siamese that lived a block away. They would fight, and the Siamese, being bigger, always won. Smoky would often end up with an infected, swollen tail. I remember that we took him to the vet twice for the swollen wound to be lanced. The third, Daddy decided he could do it himself. So he took an old army rucksack, and put Smoky in head first, with only his tail sticking out. He told me to hold the sack, then he grabbed his tail and popped it with a lance. We did this in the kitchen. That was when I discovered that an Army rucksack, made of canvas, will not hold a cat that really wants to be out. Smoky tore the seams apart, and when I saw both front paws and the head coming out, I dropped the sack. Daddy started yelling at me, but I was more concerned with getting the hell out of the kitchen, preferably by a different door than Smoky. I turned over one chair, Smoky turned over another chair, and daddy came running out of the kitchen with the sack trying to catch Smoky and get him back in the sack. I think he’d have had a better chance of finding the Pope in that sack than ever finding Smoky in there again. But back to Mrs. Railsback’s garage – Daddy was out of town, and I think Smoky had another fight with the Siamese. I just remember he had a swollen tail, and was slinking around the house for a couple of days, obviously not feeling well. One night, he didn’t show up for supper. The next morning, Mrs. Railsback called my mother to say he was in her garage dead. My little brother and I were both at school, and Daddy was still out of town, so my mother got Smoky and buried him in the back yard, so we kids wouldn’t have to see him dead. Now, this was in the spring, at a time when we get heavy rains and the clay soils will swell. One of those fronts came though that dropped several inches of rain over the course of a couple of days. Daddy had gotten back, and was out in the back yard looking at his flowerbeds when he noticed a strange sight – what appeared to be four legs of an animal sticking up from the ground. Smoky had returned, in a fashion. Daddy dug him up and reburied him, much deeper. He didn’t tell my mother for years. Neither of them told us for quite a while. They just let us think Smoky had wandered away, although I figured out the basics of what had happened. It was at least ten years later, after I was out of high school and college, before Daddy told me the story of the legs sticking out of the ground.

I thought about this because of a story I read at Dew On The Kudzu, about the much nobler burial of Kudzu the dog. That’s a story worth reading, even if all of Kudzu’s body parts stayed buried.

Dear Aunt Mable, I Still Have The Chicken

Tuesday, 10 May 2005, 10:14 | Category : Kudzu Stories
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(Another in a continuing series – Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here)

Dear Aunt Mable,

Well, I went to three daycares to see if they wanted a chicken, and they all thought it might not be good to have the chicken around children. Why? Aren’t there children on farms? Maybe I shouldn’t have explained about the bandaids on my arms where the chicken bit me. So now I don’t know what to do with this chicken. I put it in the bathroom one night, but I woke up and had to pee and when I went in there and turned on the light the chicken start squawking really loud and was hopping and flying at me, and I had to run out of there while I was still peeing. Have you ever tried to stop peeing when you’re still peeing? That’s really hard, and now the towels hanging by the door smell pretty bad. So for the last two nights I’ve made a tent thing over my bed with some old sheets, and I still hear the chicken clucking all night but at least it doesn’t get in my face while I’m asleep. Oh yeah I found something else to feed the chicken it likes Kibbles And Bits. You know? Like dogs eat? imagine that, a chicken eating dog food! But it seems to like it. Do chickens ever really learn to fly? Or do they always just do this hop and fly thing?

Anyway, Uncle Ed came over to the house Saturday, and I was showing him Tyson. And Uncle Ed asked me if Tyson had started laying eggs yet, and I said “Tyson lays eggs? I thought only girl chickens laid eggs!” and Uncle Ed just sorta looked at me the way my sixth grade teacher looked at me that time. And he finally said “Ernie, that ain’t no rooster you got in the kitchen there”. I don’t know wy I thought Tyson was a rooster, I guess because he, I mean she I guess, was so big when I got him I mean her. But I guess maybe not so big because he she hasn’t started laying eggs yet. So I asked Uncle Ed when Tyson should start laying eggs, and he said well you gotta have a rooster first. I guess it’s like those goats Uncle Ed has, that sometimes are jumping on each other, I guess I have to find a rooster to jump on Tyson. But I don’t think I want all this to happen in my kitchen, so maybe I’ll build a pen out behind the house. Uncle Ed has lots of boy goats, I wonder if I should get more than one rooster? And I wonder how long it takes for the eggs to show up? If you want lots of eggs, do you have to keep the roosters around for a long time? Uncle Ed says I should call the county agent or the extension service in Fayetteville to see if they have stuff about chickens. Tyson doesn’t sound like a good name for a girl chicken does it?

Ernie

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Ernie Names His Chicken

Thursday, 21 April 2005, 8:15 | Category : Kudzu Stories
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Dear Aunt Mable,

Well I tried to give this chicken to some daycare places, but they didn’t want it. And so I decided if I was going to have to keep it I should give it a name. I thought about calling it Whitey, because it’s mostly white, but a friend said I should call it Tyson, I guess because of that boxer. So I have named it Tyson. And guess what? It can jump up on the kitchen table!!! I feed it Cheerios and dried corn – I read a story once about Little Chick’s Breakfast, where the little Chicken loved to eat dried corn, so I tried it – well, the chicken tried it, I didn’t – and the chicken ate it!! So now I give it Cheerio’s and dried corn and ometimes still some English peas. And it has a pan right up on the table with me!! But I always put a box between the chicken and my plate, so it won’t shit in my plate again. I guess the chicken is getting used to me, because it still stays in the bathroom at night, but it has stopped flying at me and trying to peck me and bite me. But it did fall in the toilet one night and couldn’t get out, and I found it when I went in to pee. I decided to take a shower before I went back to bed, because everything got wet with water from the toilet.

Ernie

(Confused? Here’s Part 1)

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Aunt Mable’s Nephew Ernie Gets A Chicken

Wednesday, 5 January 2005, 8:13 | Category : Kudzu Stories
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Dear Aunt Mable,

What should I do with a chicken that i have? Keep in mind that I dont want to kill it or anything like that. It’s sort of large, with white feathers. What kind of chicken is this? My neighbor down the road gave it to me, and I thought it would sleep through the night, but it keeps me awake clucking. I thought if I tucked the chicken’s head under it’s wing, it would go to sleep, but I tried that and it bit me. Now it walks around with it’s head kind of crooked on it’s neck. I read that you can hypnotize a chicken by holding it’s head flat against a gravel surface, so that it is looking straight ahead, then with a stick draw a straight line in the gravel from the chicken’s head out 2 foot, and the chicken would stay hypnotized there until you disturb the line. But I tried that and the chicken bit me again. Will the chicken stop shitting everywhere if I feed it less? So far I’ve just fed it Cheetos and English peas.

Do you think a daycare would like this chicken as a pet?

Ernie

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Kudzu Stories: Aunt Mable and the Armadillo

Monday, 29 November 2004, 21:34 | Category : Kudzu Stories
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One night late this summer Aunt Mable thought she saw a UFO out behind the cucumbers. Now, that’s a story in and of itself, one maybe I’ll tell you some other time. Let’s just say it set her back for a while, and made her think some strange force was behind everything that happened for the next couple of months. Anyway, she finally got better, after Aunt Nelda Mae made her a special healing juice out of rutubagas, hot peppers, and vinegar. Nelda Mae took her up some a that juice every day for weeks – the first day, she just kinda opened Mable’s mouth and poured some in, and Mable’s eyes jerked open real fast, kinda, so Nelda Mae knew she was on to something. The same thing happened the next day, and the next, but within a few days, every time Nelda poured some in, Mable’s toes would kinda twitch, then one day her whole arm kinda fluttered at Nelda – she knocked a whole pitcher of the special juice outta Nelda Mae’s hand, ‘course we knew she didn’t mean to, she was just slow getting control of herself. Then one morning, before Nelda Mae got there, Mable came kinda half-walking-half-shuffling in the kitchen, and said – this was the first thing she had said since the UFO night, I was so surprised – anyway, she said she didn’t want Nelda Mae to come see her that day, just some milk would do fine, thank you.

(more…)