My father, Louie Dixon, lived for 50 years and 52 days; that’s how old I was last Saturday, July 26.

My father, Louie Dixon, lived for 50 years and 52 days. That’s how old I was last Saturday, July 26. If you’re reading this on Monday, then today I’m two days older than my father ever got to live. If I’ve seemed a little off recently, that’s one reason. It has been in the back of my mind for awhile now. My wife says she’s seen some of her male relatives get a bit odd as they got close to the day their own father died. I can testify that as the age your same-sex parent died gets closer, you find yourself thinking, “Three years to go....”, “Eleven months to go....”, “Six weeks to go....” At some level, you’re thinking maybe your own time is numbered, too. It also makes me very aware of how young my father was when he died. At the time, I though he was quite ancient, what with me still being in my teens at the time. But now I think, “He could have gone on for so much longer!” It’s going to be odd now knowing that, in a sense, Louie Dixon is always going to be younger than me. I’m also aware that, unlike him, I didn’t witness atomic testing in the Pacific, wasn’t exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam, and didn’t smoke two packs a day for over 30 years. So I’ve got a chance to be around a bit longer. It’s a nice thought. Maybe his example will help me to make better use of whatever time I’ve got left than if he had had a longer time himself. . . . . . I learned something about life on Earth recently. It involved dog food. The Dixon family currently has two dogs and two cats. The cats lived in the basement until, oh, approximately when we got 11 inches of water in our basement six or so weeks ago. Since then, the dogs and the cats have had many opportunities to get to know each other, and even to become friends. As for feeding them, we made it simple: we set the bowl of dog food next to the dish of cat food, and let them go at it. Almost instantly, the dogs discovered they really preferred eating cat food, and the cats learned they really liked that dog food in the other dish. As soon as I’d pour a cup of dogfood into the larger dish to the right, the cats would come running to gorge themselves. Raffi, the littler schnauzer, has gotten rather pudgy gobbling all the cat food as soon as I’d fill the cats’ bowl. Which just raises the question: “What the heck?!” Partly I think it’s the novelty. Each species is eating the type of food that’s newer to it instead of what they’re used to, regardless of the taste. But part of it is just contrariness, I think. The dogs and cats know full well what they’re supposed to be eating, so therefore they do the opposite. Now tell me those aren’t two of the guiding principles of life on Earth — contrariness and stubbornness. How often in your life have you done the opposite of what you know you’re supposed to do, just for the sake of it? We were concerned about the dogs and cats not getting the nutrients they were supposed to, and putting on weight from eating more than they should. Solution — we’ve started mixing the dogfood and catfood in both dishes. Each dish is now filled with a scoop of dogfood and one of catfood, judiciously stirred so it’s all mixed together. It’s been funny watching Raffi delicately pick her way through the dishes, trying to just eat the cat food and leave the dogfood for the cats.