I stepped out from my morning shower. As I toweled off, water dripped onto the bath mat--and Pickles. He was purring while running laps around and between my feet, alternating between circles and figure eights.
Jack shook his head and went back to sleep in a spot of sunshine.
"You should pet me," Pickles said, pausing to shake a few water drops from his forehead. "You haven't petted me since before your shower."
I looked down at my feet. I seemed to be wearing thin tennis socks made of cat hair.
"You forgot to wash your feet," Pickles said.
"Thanks," I responded, petting him before placing my feet under the faucet and briefly running the water.
I eventually got out of the upstairs bathroom. Kimberly and I have a bathroom off our bedroom, but during the winter the upstairs bathroom is warmer. In fact, the cats often spend their days sleeping in the sunlight that shines in through the upstairs bathroom skylight.
Pickles raced down the stairs past me and was lying down, waiting for me when I reached the bottom.
"You should pet me. You haven't petted me since after your shower," he purred. Rather than argue, I leaned over and stroked his head. "See... don't you feel better now?"
I stood up and squinted out the living room window at the barn. Kimberly and I had saved up for a long time and had finally gotten siding put on the barn. We chose white barn siding to match the house.
But because our property faces south, and the winter sun is lower, the new, white barn was almost too bright to look at during the day. I wondered if the reflection off the white siding could give me cataracts.
On the upside, the new tin siding was reflecting more than the sunlight. Whereas Kimberly and I used to have horrible cell phone reception in the house, we could now get five bars standing near the living room window.
An unusual noise from the kitchen interrupted my squinting. I crept cautiously toward the sound, not because I was scared, but because I was still barn blind. My eyes had barely adjusted by the time I reached the kitchen.
"Urg! Oooh! Urg! Oooh!"
The unusual noises were coming from our dog Pepper. Macy was curled up beside Pepper on the kitchen loveseat. With her eyes closed, Macy kneaded Pepper's side and back with her full set of front claws.
"You okay?" I asked Pepper.
"All right then."
Dr. Bob was soon to arrive to geld Justin. Pickles volunteered to help me get dressed, so it took three times longer than usual.
The thought of Justin's gelding had made me queasy since Kimberly told me about the appointment, but the procedure--which they did in the pasture--couldn't have gone smoother. It took just fewer than 20 minutes. Justin snored through most of it.
His lips were curled back, revealing all of his teeth, and his snoring nearly drowned out the conversation. Kimberly said it reminded her of how I sleep. She says some pretty funny things sometimes.
When Justin came to, Dr. Bob helped him up and led him from the pasture to his stall. I closed him in and leaned over his stall door.
"Am I special now?" Justin asked. "You said 'gelding' was something special for big boys."
"Well," I responded, "you're special no matter what, Justin." I was feeling queasy again.
"All right!" Justin whinnied, hopped a few times and winced. "My leg hurts."
"You need to take it easy," I said. "Being special takes a little getting used to."
"Yeah. You're probably right," Justin responded and sipped some water from his bucket.
"What's with the kid?" Vander asked me, leaning over his stall door.
"I'm special 'cause I'm gelded!" Justin shouted.
"AAAAHHHHHHHH!" hollered Vander and Brownie.
"Sheesh," Justin said. "What's with the old guys?"
"They're, um, jealous," I answered.
"Hardly!" Vander exclaimed. "Being gelded isn't something to brag about!"
"Are you guys gelded?" Justin asked Vander and Brownie.
"Definitely not!" shouted Vander.
"Not a chance!" yelled Brownie.
"Yep, they're jealous," Justin said, looking at me and nodding his head.
Perhaps Vander and Brownie didn't know they were gelded. Perhaps they knew and were in denial. Either way, I didn't feel like arguing with them.
"Are you gelded, Dad?" Justin asked after Vander and Brownie quieted down.
"No, but I hope to be someday."
"Don't worry," Justin assured me, "You're special no matter what."