Skinny Pete

I was out for a walk with my son the other evening. Truth be told, it wasn’t just a leisurely walk; we were taking out the garbage, and in our neighborhood, “taking out the garbage” means walking it a quarter mile to the dumpster in our condo complex. In the summer, I prefer to walk the short distance rather than drive.

It was a beautiful night with a slight breeze, and even though it was just after 8:00, it was already quite dark. A couple walking their dog appeared out of the darkness like a grainy photograph in a pan of developer.

The dog was friendly and came over for a sniff and a greeting. I pet her quickly on my way by. “She always has to get her greeting,” her owner said from well within the shroud of the evening darkness.

“I have a cat like that,” I told them. “Perhaps you’ve met him. Black and white… very friendly? He’ll come right up to you and say hi,” I informed them.

“Oh, sounds like Skinny Pete!” they both said.

“Oh, you have met him! He has a bit of a reputation in the neighborhood. He’s cute and friendly, a bit of a pest, but he keeps the chipmunks at bay,” I informed them. “His name is Poto.”

“We call him Skinny Pete,” they returned. “We have a cat at home that looks just like him, but he’s fatter.” Interesting, I thought, that they would refer to my cat as skinny. “But now we know his name, at least.”

We exchanged a few more pleasantries before we ambled down the walkway to complete our dumpster run.

“The cat knows more of the neighbors than we do,” my son said, matter-of-factly.

“It’s kind of sad,” I replied. “When the cat has a more active and exciting social life than we do.”

Working from Home

I am just finishing up my work at the job I hold during the school year, and I am shifting to a ramped up schedule in my second job, which consists of online work. It is a hectic time of wrapping up projects in one area and beginning new projects in another.

I enjoy the flexibility of working online during the summer because it allows me to be available for a more relaxed activity schedule and occasional day trips with my kids. I have been working in this position in one capacity or another for the past nine years, so my children were quite young when I started, and they have grown up watching me work from the kitchen table. However, this work is not without its challenges.

Last night, I was in my jammies, one of the perks of online work. I was on a training call with an instructor I will be supervising for the summer. Despite the fact that my children were in and out of the kitchen, preparing for bed and for the following day, the call was going relatively smoothly with few distractions. Over the years, the kids have become more accustomed to these calls that can sometimes stretch onward to two hours, as last night’s call did, and they are quiet (enough).

Midway through the conversation, the cat decided to jump onto a cabinet to make her way onto the refrigerator. Just as her little feet left the floor, my 18 year old coughed, completely throwing the cat off her planned trajectory. She touched the cabinet for only a split second—just long enough to scatter a few items onto the floor. The noise of these items scattering only served to frighten her further, and she bolted from the room. My son burst out laughing, and I could not stifle my own laughter.

Keep in mind, I had never met nor spoken with the woman on the other end of the phone before that conversation. So as not to seem rude, I explained why I was laughing. Meanwhile, her dog began barking for her to play with him.

Ah, the joys (and challenges) of online work. Of course, the flexibility and the pajama factor balance it all out.

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[A photo of the cat in question]