The muffin showdown


By Daris Howard | Special to The PREVIEW

We visited my daughter, Clarissa, to help her with some yard work. She has bought herself a house that she is fixing up. She is a plumber and knows that better than I do, but she has called me with other questions where I had some expertise.

But, on this day, we had come over to plant some raspberries, rhubarb and blackberries in her yard. I started with a shovel, and when I tried to dig a hole, it was like chipping on cement. Standing on it, twisting it and everything else I could think of only yielded a hole about the size of a golf ball.

I asked Clarissa if she had a pickax, and it just happened that she had received one from a neighbor who was throwing it away. His yard was similar, but he said he didn’t need it anymore. He was retired and quite old, and he said that if something wasn’t planted by now, he wouldn’t live long enough to care.

I got hold of the pick and went to work. Clarissa marked off the spots where she wanted the plants, and I started chiseling through the soil. Even with the pickax, it felt like I was chiseling granite out of a quarry, and it took me 10 to 15 minutes per hole to get it big enough that the roots would set in it.

After I prepared each hole, my wife, Donna, would put the plant in and pat the dirt around it. Clarissa would carry over the water and continue to pour it onto the plant until she was sure it had soaked around the roots deep into the soil.

After I finished the last few holes, Clarissa decided she wanted to get some particular soil to go around the last few plants.

“Mom and Dad, come in and have some lemonade and muffins until I get back,” she said.

I appreciated that. The sweat was pouring off me, and I knew I could use the break.

As we entered the house, two cats warily came up to check us out. Clarissa explained that she hadn’t adopted the cats. They were wild and had adopted her. They would catch mice around her house, so she had given them scraps, and they had stayed. Both were free spirits.

“Oh, and watch your muffin,” Clarissa said. 

She warned that the cats loved muffins, but they made them sick. I think that Clarissa might have even said that the one cat’s name was Muffin. 

“She will hunt muffins down if I don’t lock them up, and then she gets sick and throws up. The only thing the cats like better than muffins is for me to take them into the backyard and toss shiny things to them,” Clarissa said, pointing to some bracelets on the shelf. She then left for the store, and I headed to the cupboard.

I got a muffin and a cup and set them on the counter. I grabbed the lemonade out of the fridge. When I turned around, Muffin, the cat, was on the counter, only about a foot from my muffin. She was down on her belly, approaching it in full hunting-attack mode.

“Shoo,” I said, reaching out to pull my muffin away from her. As I did, I felt a claw in my hand that stopped me and left a little blood dripping down my wrist. I turned to face the cat, and we had a stare-down contest. When I reached out toward the muffin, she raised her paw with her switchblade claws fully extended to defend what she thought was hers. This continued briefly, with neither of us gaining the advantage. Finally, I had an idea.

I reached over to the shelf and grabbed the shiny bracelets. Immediately, both cats perked up. 

“Want to go outside?” I asked. I kept tossing the bracelets up and down, acting like I was going to the door until both cats were so excited they were pawing at the glass. I rushed over like I was excited to go out, and I opened the door. Both cats raced out, expecting me to toss their playthings. Instead, I shut the door, returned the bracelets to the shelf and ate my muffin with the cats staring at me through the door.

When Clarissa returned, we planted the last plants. As we did, Muffin crouched near me in attack position. Clarissa frowned. “Dad, for some reason, I don’t think she likes you.”

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