Bud and L’Orange

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Our guinea pigs L’Orange and Bud moved into a larger, shared cage this week. We ordered one of those open-top “C&C” (cubes and coroplast) cages from GuineaPigCagesStore.com. If you are also blessed with guinea pigs, I highly recommend an enclosure of this type for your critters. It’s possible to make a cage yourself by ordering the cubes, connectors, and coroplast separately, but I decided to simplify the process by ordering a kit that contained all the necessary supplies to create a 30″x44″ cage. The kit was easy to assemble. Our guineas were running around inside the finished cage within a half-hour of the kit’s delivery.

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To Wish Impossible Things

I don’t have much time for writing this evening. This is the sort of reasoning that drives my dwindling number of blog posts. I don’t know where to begin, and I don’t have the time to start.

If I keep waiting to write until an afternoon yawns wide before me, eventually I’ll cease writing here. This blog will be yet another casuality of attrition.

So I will share this evening’s stream of thought, that I need daydreams about as much as my body needs oxygen. I’ve learned that waking dreams can be crucial in coping with many forms of adversity, especially chronic pain.

The key is to persuade my mind to reflect of pleasing things rather than awful ones. I’ve had persistent nerve pain in my right hip this week, which is a distressing development because my as-known nerve damage is on the left side. The pain strikes like a beacon from the black box of an airplane that’s crashed and refuses to let its wreckage be lost. The volume of its signal is a solid 7 out of 10 while I drive.

It is very tempting indeed to anticipate more of the same suffering in the days to come. However, I’ve found that a daydream of a perfect place is the best tool I have to cope with this nerve pain.

My perfect place isn’t merely some generic place like an idyllic beach. It is impossibly perfect, a forest retreat with city utilities and Wi-Fi that never fails. Here I relax in a cabin that is covered in vines and surrounded with flowers year round. Here I can stop time and have as much time to myself as I need. I might even let a pet or two join me in my repose:


I feel that this place has such a conducive vibe for learning that L’Orange and I could read through spans of the canon of literature with ease. He’d take along my copy of Washington Irving’s short stories that’s been collecting dust and good intentions on my coffee table in real life, and we’d thrill over those pastoral, sometimes spine-tingling tales.

My perfect place would be self-cleaning. It would engage all my of senses.Any food I wanted would appear at my wish. There’s something so comforting to me in imagining a perfectly satisfying meal, which would depend on what combination of salt, fat, or sugar I’m craving at the moment. Or sometimes I imagine something quite wholesome, like garden-fresh tomatoes on top of barley with a brightly flavored dressing.

What seems delightful today would be a small plate of the best fries I ever tasted, which was at a random restaurant in Solvang, California, back in ’94. I ate them at a sidewalk table, and the fries had a stellar crisp-to-fluff ratio with a hint of garlic flavor. The weather was superb for outdoor dining, as it almost never is semirural Ohio. In the perfect place, I’d eat those fries with a bit of fresh dill on top and school cafeteria ketchup for dipping. No ketchup has ever rivaled the high vinegar type of my school days.

And now my time for writing really has dwindled this evening.

Do you have a perfect place you visit in your mind?

By the way, I feel like I am remiss in writing about L’Orange without mentioning his real life sidekick Buddy:

Let It Snow

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I’m as ready for Christmas as I ever get. I approach the holidays much like I did test taking in my school days. After an initial fervor, I’d procrastinate until I had to cram the information, layering the re-reading of my notes with plenty of Hail Mary’s in hope that something, anything had embedded itself into my long-term memory. Despite these crises of confidence, my test results were usually good unless I didn’t bother to show up.

I have all the presents wrapped and ready to load for the trip across town to my parents’ house tomorrow. Of course, I feel like I somehow missed getting anything that anyone would actually like because my usual self-absorption has precluded me from telepathically receiving everyone’s wish lists. Nobody tells me what they really want for Christmas any more, even my daughter. Perhaps they have abandoned all hope that I would actually find the time and the wherewithal to brave the holiday shopping crowds to get what their hearts truly desire.

One year I got all the adults on my shopping list an As-Seen-On-TV item and a gift card. At least they were able to apply the latter gift toward something useful.

Today we had our first substantial snow of the season. We had mist and fog last night, so the tree branches were primed to grow heavy with fallen snow:

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I really wish I had some photos of last night’s fog. My daughter and I went shopping yesterday evening, and we took a road-less-traveled on the way home. My habit of alternative routing is very much based on avoidance of left turns except at traffic lights with a left turn green arrow and four-way stop signs. Anyway, there was a nearly-deserted overpass we took on the way home that looked quite magical in the fog. It was a scene I will not soon forget.

By the way, I’m still a little melancholy over the closing of this year’s garden. Where once were baskets overflowing with blooms are now just forlorn shepherd’s hooks:

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I struggle to appreciate winter, even though I know from experience that I need this downtime to ensure my serenity in the long term.

Back to the subject of Christmas, my daughter did take the time to inform me of one entry on her wish list. Her relating this wish to me isn’t really an exception to the cloud of unknowing regarding my loved one’s Christmas lists, for she’s been campaigning for this one since summer. She wants a companion for her guinea pig, L’Orange:

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We adopted him last winter, and he has given us unexpected joy. My daughter has a special voice that belongs to L’Orange. The timbre and spirit of this voice hearken to Louis Armstrong, raspy, witty and wise. I’m surprised by how much history L’Orange has learned despite his seclusion. Last week he told us, “The Doughboys fought in World War I. They were badasses!”

She insists that he’d be happier with a buddy, but I’ve delayed the acquisition of one because I’m concerned that keeping two boars happy could be a tricky business.

After doing a bit of reading online, I’ve learned that it is feasible to keep two males provided they have plenty of space. I challenged my daughter to make space in her room for expanding our guinea accommodations. I didn’t think she would rise to the occasion, but she did so just in time for the local supply of guinea pigs to evaporate due to  Christmas gift giving.

Perhaps we will acquire L’Orange’s buddy in much the same way we did him. He was a February surrender of a Christmas gift gone wrong for his first family.

Merry Christmas to all of my readers.