The old lady is up in the night.............Her hair is floating on end and she wears a long pale nightgown with a man’s tuck-fronted tuxedo shirt over it...............Why a tuxedo shirt? They were on sale once in a basement bargain department and a shirt is a shirt and besides she liked the pleated bib fronts and the funny collar with the bent-over points..... A sweater or fleece shirt or even a flannel shirt is too much on this summer night but a light white shirt is just about right ........ And she can’t sleep........It’s warm but her feet are cold so maybe that’s why....... The people who talk about how to go to sleep say you should get your feet warm..... But cold feet feel nice when it’s this warm.....She sticks her feet out from under the covers but now the cat likes to sleep on her feet, the big wooly hot cat who is welcome in winter...........Moonlight sluices in the windows and..........oh, good thing she got back up because she forgot to close the front door and the hook on the screendoor is broken so anyone could walk in though why they would is beyond her and this is a pretty safe town really...........Oh this hair -- should she just shave her head?.........She’d sit at the computer for a while but the return key is broken and she thinks in paragraphs separated by a space so she can’t think without that return key...........The refrigerator is knocking as though someone were trapped in there which is nonsense because the door is only magnetic, no latch, no child could be trapped in there..............No children around this house..........Maybe they think she’s a witch but the real answer is that all the children in the neighborhood have grown up, children come in waves and cohorts and now the wave is cresting and they’ve all gone off to college..........Pretty soon there will be some more deaths in the neighborhood, several houses are standing empty already waiting to be released into probate and so on, and then sold to young couples who need starter houses and they’ll begin a new wave of children............If she forgot to close the front door, what else did she forget...........Better look at the checkbooks, she was going to do it this afternoon but forgot...........And it appears that she may be overdrawn but there’s nothing you can do about it in the middle of the night and she can’t think about numbers until morning.......The overdraft will be only a dollar or two but they’ll charge thirty dollars for it and that will put her overdrawn again, of course, so another thirty dollar penalty for that and now she’s up to sixty dollars which is more than her discretionary money every month so what budget item will she have to take it out of?.......She looked on the computer to see what a refrigerator that knocks means and it sounded like something that could be fixed, but she’s a little reluctant to take it apart.....The town council says that the recent well exploration cost more than they thought and there was some paperwork that cost money to file that they hadn’t counted on and the village financial books auditor from Missoula that they were required to bring in said that their fees for water and sewer weren’t high enough and they would have to raise them by 12% to come out even, plus another 3% per year for the next few years after that ..............They talked about getting grants which shows that they haven’t been listening to the news because there won’t BE grants now for decades and they’re talking about reducing social security payments to close the deficit............And this other clever thing to evade the cost of living increases that were supposed to keep the payments from shrinking when prices inflated -- now they’re going to figure the cost of living some way that comes out less, which they say is the “real” cost of living......... Weasel stuff to keep people in office.............It makes her stomach hurt so would it be better to eat a little something or to take some meds of some kind? Neither is a good option because gastric reflex -- they call it GERD -- everything has an acronym -- will erode your esophagus and even coffee is becoming a problem but the acid killer meds are really expensive and she takes too many already ........The cats are up now and want something to eat...........The cat food supply is low...............Then the moonlight darkens and there is tapping on the windows as it begins to rain...........This is good, no need to run the sprinkler -- water is metered now -- and she forgets to move it so it runs in one spot until there’s a big puddle which the robins think is great but it drowns some of the grass while most of it bakes..............And will it rain too much to hang out clothes? She ought to do a laundry. She does it once a month at the laundromat thirty miles away. The little local store that used to have a few tubs took them out because they were too much work and didn’t pay even though there has been a good deal of work for out-of-town labor who are living in motels and RV’s and it would be good for them. The same people took out their state fishing license machine because it was too much work and didn’t make money. They don’t believe in service to the community. This is supposed to be a fishing town because of the lake but the locals know to buy their fishing license at the county seat..............This old lady does not care because she does not fish or boat or camp by a lake where the RV’s are lined up side-by-side like a Walmart parking lot.................There was a half-grown raccoon in the garage a few nights ago -- what does that mean?.............The grizzlies have been coming closer and closer to town. Maybe she should be more careful about leaving the front door open in the middle of the night. The grizzlies are coming.