Guest Witch Observation: MY FIRST BLACK HAT by Helen Huntington

Helen sent me this in an email and I so loved the idea of making your own shade being a kind of witchcraft that I asked her if I could include it. Obviously, she agreed.

My First Black Hat

By Helen Huntington

I had a black fedora when I was a teenager (what can I say, it was the 80s). When anyone else put it on, it looked like a fedora. When I put it on, it looked like a witch’s hat. Maybe it was trying to tell me something, a sort of Sorting Hat.

I’d forgotten about the First Black Hat. Many years later, I now wear big black hats all the time for sun protection. Depending on what else I am wearing, sometimes people think I look a little witchy. I think if witchiness is moving with nature by wearing portable shade rather than against nature by smearing chemicals on my face that give me a rash in the hope of preventing skin cancer, then sign me up as a witch.


It is said that, if your mom cuts your sandwich into an odd number of sections, and you eat it, you will meet a woman who will tell you what year the Cubs will finally win the World Series and then she will kill you before you can tell anyone.

It is not known if she’s doing you a favor or not.

Wherever the dog sleeps, it's got to be on a towel. For obvious reasons. I suspect that the orange cat knows something is wrong, since it's exactly the kind of day the orange cat would normally be outside. And yet, he's been this close to the dog all day.

Wherever the dog sleeps, it’s got to be on a towel. For obvious reasons. I suspect that the orange cat knows something is wrong, since it’s exactly the kind of day the orange cat would normally be outside. And yet, he’s been this close to the dog all day.

It Just Goes On and On, My Friend

This just feels like the sadness that never ends. And yet, things go one much like they have for a while now. She goes out and stands in the yard and looks off toward the north like something is coming from that way that only she can see. She sleeps on the couch until she hears something and then she cocks her head and looks at me like I’d better go check and see if we’re about to be killed by a scary monster, because she’s going to be busy hiding and unable to protect us.

She likes the wet food, but, like I said, it’s clearly just the novelty of it she likes. She took a few bites of dry food yesterday, I think mostly to appease my mom, but really has no interest in it.

Sometimes, she stands next to me and puts her head in my hands and stares at me and I know she knows something is wrong and she wants me to do something about it. It’s the same look she’s given me when she wants me to pull a tick off her or get a leaf out of her ear. She pissed the bed again last night, but I had her on towels, so it wasn’t as gross and night-ruining as the night before.

Most alarmingly, it doesn’t have any smell. So, I think her kidneys aren’t working. It’s just water coming through, no waste. And she shudders when she breathes in.

I worry that she’s in pain.

But she seems completely happy. It’s so weird.

I called a mobile vet one of my friends used when her dog was dying. I’m waiting for her to call me back. I thought I was composed, but the minute I had to say why I was calling, I started crying. So, I hope she can understand at least my phone number and call me back.

It’s the ordinariness that gets me, most, how Mrs. Wigglebottom is just doing all the regular things she normally does. Just much more frailly. It’s so easy to ask yourself, “Do you really euthanize a dog who’s still capable of licking her butt in a disgusting manner while sitting right next to you?” “Is it fair to euthanize a dog who would be happy to sit out in the sun all day when there are bound to be so many more sunny days?” You look for any excuse to say “It’s not bad enough yet.”

And then I remember this is night two of her sleeping in her own urine and I feel guilty about wanting to wait until the Butcher gets home. Making her wait seems so cruel.

And yet, of course she’s unbothered. This is just another thing that happens. She used to not pee when she slept and now she does. She seems to find it strange, but not alarming.

I am doing all the dreading for both of us.