As we speak, John’s outside working on his second terrace. In the rain.
Our house sits on a hillside with only a couple areas naturally flat enough to garden. Anywhere else — everywhere else — requires leveling by building stone terraces and then filling in with soil. Already John has built up a large terraced garden area directly in front of the house; this newest one is along the side, between our two monster stacks of firewood and above yet another garden.
Because, you know…there’s no such thing as too many gardens.
While I also love gardens, John is obsessed with them (we were farmers, after all). When I ask him what we’re going to do with all the vegetables and fruit he intends to plant in these spaces, he shrugs. I’m thinking I’d better start working up an appetite.
We’re all obsessed with something, I suppose. Back in our farming days, Dana passed along to me an obsession with crossword puzzles. I’m working on at least one at all times, usually two or three. I can’t bear to set aside a blank puzzle, particularly from the New York Times. (My deepest heartfelt gratitude goes out to the Seattle paper for carrying them.) And although John doesn’t at all share my infatuation, I know he secretly relishes the fact that I have to ask him for answers to clues related to sports. I have no interest in sports games yet John follows most of them, if not quite obsessively, at least with a healthy serving of gusto.
Which is why he doesn’t lose his cool when I ignore his attempts at conversation while I’m immersed in one of my puzzles. It happens almost every evening after we plop down in our easy chairs and turn on the national news. To paraphrase:
John: Wow, Ariel Castro hanged himself. I’ll bet that’s going to bring up some issues with the prison officials.
Me: Okay. What’s a two-letter abbreviation for an NFL blocker?
Still, as fixated as I can be with crossword puzzles, as compulsive as John gets with his gardens, no one — and I mean no one — is obsessed with anything as much as Pablo is obsessed with his squirrel on a stick.
He sits like this and waits. And waits. And waits a little longer until, gosh dang it, he’s forced to come out and find one of us to coax back to Primo Play Area Extraordinaire, the carpeted bedroom. Because c’mon, what could be better than a lively game of squirrel on a stick on a rug?
Nothing, that’s what.
The greatest part, in Pablo’s opinion, is the fluidity of the rules. That, and the fact that all the rules are made up by Pablo. One second we’re reaching for the squirrel, then WHAM!
It’s time to grab that squirrel, hold it tight and sneak in a few face rubs on the elasticized string. Mmmmmm. Ahhhhh.
Good move, Pablo. Good move.
Notice the untucked sheet and blanket? That’s Pablo’s idea too (really, I swear). At a moment’s notice the game might take a sudden turn with Pablo hiding behind the covers to smack at the squirrel from UNDER THE BED. Talk about exhilarating! After it gets this intense, there’s no choice but to take a bit of a breather, a time out if you will. Relax that pink belly and let it all hang loose.
Preferably with the squirrel parked snugly on one cheek.
It’s a testament to the squirrel on a stick that the day John brought it home from Pet Town, Pablo immediately cast aside his long-time companion, the koala bear on a string.
But cast aside he did, leaving us worried about the squirrel’s inevitable demise. See, John bought the last squirrel on a stick in the store and has since noticed there’ve been no more restocked. Eventually, Pablo will rip the current squirrel apart (its ears have been gone for some time) and we’ll be faced with the conundrum of finding him another.
We’re not letting on to Pablo. As it stands, if we ignore his demands to play some squirrel for too long, he gets pretty testy.
Should the squirrel on a stick meet an untimely end, we’re a little concerned Pablo’s obsession might turn into full-out possession. As in possessed. As in
Man, I hope that squirrel lasts a while.