That Time That Butterflies Explained it All.

I was walking along, minding my own business, enjoying the sweltering humidity that is a June-Day-Between-Thunderstorms, when I all of a sudden found myself in a deeply philosophical place.

There was a flutter of activity, and I looked about. Butterflies. Blue butterflies. Green Butterflies. Orange Butterflies. Busily flapping about and clearly engaged in an important task.

Then I noticed that two landed on the ground near each other. I needed to get my camera ready!

Then a third!!

Oh, this was a regular butterfly convention happening. Thank goodness I was present to record the moment for posterity.

I got down on my knees and held the camera to my eye, which is when I realized what exactly they were all so excited about.

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They had all landed on a nice, fresh pile of dog poo and were busily sucking away at it.

This was more than I wanted to know about the dietary habits of butterflies. About the origins of their bold colors and their graceful flying abilities. About the tastiness of dog poo.

Yet, this moment seemed to offer so much wisdom. I found myself involuntarily creating new Southern Colloquialisms – an unavoidable past-time in Alabama, because we do love a memorable saying…

For when that annoying person is really getting on your last nerve…

“Three butterflies could land on that turd and he’d still stink.”

For when your kid has had an exceptionally whiny day…

“He’s three butterflies short of a turd party.”

When there’s that perfect Mom with the perfect hair and perfect nails and perfect outfit and perfect makeup and perfect kids and perfect house…

“She may look shiny and bright, but I guarantee you she’s sitting on a pile of dung somewhere in her life.”

When you’ve had a spectacularly pleasing day…

“I’m as happy as the first butterfly to a fresh dog log.”

For that person who always seems to make the worst choices…

“She could’ve had every flower in the forest but she chose to slurp on a turd.”

 For when you’re trying to look at the bright side of a bad situation…

“They say you can’t polish a turd, but you sure can land three pretty butterflies on it.”

To remind yourself that the fifteen dollars worth of Taco Bell you’re about to eat is totally normal….

“No matter how pretty and tiny you are, sometimes you just wanna eat like crap.”

When things are going too well…

“There’s dookie somewhere under all these butterflies.”

So go forth out into the world. Bolder and more confident. Having gained the wisdom of butterflies who make poor nutritional choices.

A Letter: From the Cat, To The UPS Man.

Dear Bringer of Brown Squares,

Hi. I am the cat that calls the porch of the blue house my own. They call me Thomas, but others call me Midnight, Snape, Voldemort, and That $%*#& Stray Cat.

You brought a couple brown squares and left them on the porch today, as you usually do. I always like to try and read the letters on the squares.

A-M-A-Z….

Obviously, the squares come to herald how amazing I am.

But I felt the need to apologize for the state that you found my home in. The Owners of The Blue House hadn’t discovered my extremely generous gifting yet, and so…you had to step around some things.

You had to SEE some things.

For one, the dead and fully in tact chipmunk to the left of the front door. I left that one for the humans – they do love protein.

For two, the decapitated chipmunk, with the best pieces of intestines laid out as fancy as a formal dinner at Downton Abbey, on the welcome mat. That was going to be my pre-lunch snack, once it had attained more of a rubbery patina.

For three, the generously sized watery portion of chipmunk-related vomit on the third porch step. I’m sure that was hard to maneuver around, especially with those large brown squares in your hand.

That was to remind the humans how despicably they treat me.

These tortured corpses weren’t intended for you, gracious provider of material happiness encapsulated in brown squares, but for the Wicked Lords of the Manor, whom I despise with the heat of a thousand suns.

(And also, puzzlingly, whom I love and adore. I’m a complex being.)

The problem is, they quit feeding me. After screaming and yelling with what I can only imagine was uncontained glee at my increasingly graphic presents on their porch, they showed their appreciation by ceasing the provision of bowls of my cardboard-like nutritional substance.

I don’t understand.

I think they thought I would move on, to stay at one of the MANY other neighborhood houses that I frequent.

But, even after I go collect my half-dozen offerings of cat food from the other neighbors, I prefer them.

I prefer to stay at their windows and meow day and night.

I prefer to vomit directly into their electrical outlets.

I prefer to feast upon furry friends on their porch, leaving science projects for the kids – I mean, how else are they going to find out that Chipmunk hearts and lungs and intestines and livers are so easy to identify?? And discover how microscopic but Mortal-Kombat-looking a Chipmunk spinal column can be? I’m basically providing lab classes for their homeschool, free of charge. You’re welcome, Evil Overlords.

And it’s really no trouble – the tasteless tic-tac-toe shaped food they gave me just made me lazy. I much prefer the fresh catch of the day. So now I leave ten times the amount of corpses on their front porch. That’ll show them how good their strategies are.

And anyway. I sometimes catch The Lady of the Manor taking pictures of my leftovers. So I suspect she secretly appreciates it.

Swimming-Through-Life-Chipmunk-IMG_0793Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming…

But, I recognize that perhaps my banquet tables were a bit unsettling to your brown square delivery. You maybe were jealous of my adoration and provision for my host family. And I wanted to apologize. For all the feelings you must have felt, as you stepped over that large biley pile of intestines, and gazed upon my upcoming snack that was being perfectly seasoned as it baked in the sun.

Perhaps next time, if you could just slip a bag of cat food into that brown square?

That’d be great.

Sincerely,

Thomas the Cat.

p.s. Whatever you did totally worked! Thank you, deliverer of brown squares. They have ended their strike against me and have reissued their provision of tic-tac-toe food. Although now they’re serving it all the way around the back of the house. I think they think it’ll make me leave my presents back where no one can see them. Heh. Now WHY would I do that.

The Laundry Basket From Above.

I live near a lot of fancy suburbs. I do not live *in* any of them. In fitting with my renegade style of life, I live in the unincorporated county, where no one can tell me what to do and I am endlessly confused as to what should technically go on the third line of my mailing address.

But these fancy suburbs provide me endless entertainment.

One such fancy suburb is a rather hilly city, and they found the most glorious way to combine these two characteristics (fancy + hills) into the perfect official city slogan.

“A Life Above.”

That’s right. They actually went there. They want to make sure that I am completely aware that they are currently looking down their perfectly sculpted noses at me who is, clearly, living a life below.

If you can even call it a life. More like An Existence Below.

It goes without saying that when, perchance, I see something that doesn’t quite meet the qualifications of The Above Life going down in their perfect enclave of humanity, I notice.

(And point and laugh. But that’s beside the point.)

One such item was The Laundry Basket Above.

On a particularly rainy Saturday, we were passing through The Life Above to go to Ali’s basketball game. It was dreary. Muddy waterfalls were blighting their roads. The world was ugly no matter how above you lived.

At a busy intersection, the type that’s so busy it requires a triangular cement divider in the middle of the road, I first noticed it.

There was a laundry basket, full of clothes and soaked all the way below its nasty nasty core.

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Clothes were spilling out. There was a brown towel. A green pair of underwear. Very yanky looking sheets.

It was the most un-above thing I’d ever encountered in the wild.

So naturally I took a picture and sent it to all my friends who live The Life Above.

(Thankfully they all have good senses of humor. Or they wouldn’t be my friends.)

I also couldn’t help but wonder.

What would make someone abandon their laundry in the middle of the intersection? Were they on their way to the laundromat (which of course doesn’t exist in A Life Above) and just happen to see their favorite ex sitting at the traffic light? And they squealed, dropped the laundry, and jumped into his (or her) Trans-Am?

The next morning, we were headed to church. We have to go through this particular intersection to get there, so we eagerly craned our necks to check on the fate of The Most Above Laundry Basket That Ever Existed.

It was still there, but now a good deal more strewn, and still quite moist.

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Clearly someone or something had been rooting around in there.

Which is when we began to make up stories.

Perhaps An Opossum Above had taken up residence. Which, considering Opossum track records in busy intersections, was either the smartest or stupidest thing an Opossum had ever done.

Or maybe someone simply needed a fresh pair of green underpants. Although fresh is definitely the wrong adjective…

The next Saturday, we began the Day Count.

The Laundry Basket Above was now on Day Eight.

Whose responsibility is it to clean up discarded laundry baskets? Is it the same guy who has to clean up roadkill? Why hasn’t he been around yet? There aren’t THAT many raccoons lying about…

The Laundry Basket Above made it to Day Ten.

Maybe the Laundry Opossum is an endangered species. I bet they have to build a picket fence around The Laundry Basket Above and leave it there forever. There will definitely be a plaque. He will become The Official Mascot of A Life Above. Everyone will bless the ground that is walked on by whoever discarded their full load of laundry. THEY ARE A POSSUM LIFESAVER.

THE LAUNDRY BASKET ABOVE ON DAY THIRTEEN.

Is mold growing in that laundry basket yet? Will it hurt the Laundry Opossum? I bet flies are laying their maggot babies in it. That thing is going to be An Ecosystem Above of its very own.

And then, it was gone.

Either The Roadkill Scraping Guy finally got around to the bottom of his checklist (right underneath “Small decapitated chipmunk on Altavista” was listed “Burgeoning laundry basket on Columbiana.”), or someone said “SCORE!! FREE TOWELS AND UNDERWEAR!” And happily scooped up the laundry basket and its Opossum home.

But whatever happened, it was no longer there, and I mourned its loss.

That laundry basket and I had become close. I looked forward to our bi-weekly visits. I pined to know its secrets. All of its stories of past, happier days.

Whose back did you dry, brown towel? Whose butt did you cover, green underpants?

But now I would never know.

A week later, as we passed through the intersection and I braced myself for my period of mourning, we saw it.

Right where the laundry basket had been, there was a dead animal.

“Is that a raccoon??”

”It looks like a small fox!!”

“Go around again! We need to know!!”

“It’s a bobcat!?!”

“OH MY GOSH THAT’S A GIANT HOUSE CAT.”

Apparently it was never an Opossum Home. It was a Cat House. And when that cat returned from a chasing unincorporated mice, to cozy up into its comfortable bed of browns and greens, it discovered that its home had been stolen RIGHT OFF THE FOUNDATION, and it immediately died of shock and sadness.

A true Shakespearean tale of tragic woe and fitted sheets.