Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “PUD-PUD” POFF CLEARED AND RELEASED BY FBI

Remember when a Texas woman was arrested for sending explosive devices to President Barak Obama and Governor Greg Abbot? Investigators found a cat hair under the address label on one of the packages and matched it to one of the suspect’s cats. The following post details facts not reported by newspapers. It has run on this blog before.

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Three cats suspected of helping owner Julia Poff mail explosive devices to former President Barak Obama and Texas Governor Greg Abbott were released from custody Thursday afternoon following questioning by federal law enforcement officers.

FBI crime lab investigators had found a cat hair under the address label on the package containing the explosives and traced it to the Poff cats. It is alleged that Ms. Poff sent the potentially deadly devices to former President Obama and Governor Greg Abbott because she was mad at them.

Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” Poff were taken from the Poff home in Brookshire, Texas, 34 miles west of Houston, Thursday around 9:00 a.m.

Muffy

FBI Agent Arnold Specie, chief of the Houston Bureau, announced in a press conference late Thursday that after intense grilling, officials were satisfied the cats had no connection to any nefarious activities.

“The only thing they’re guilty of is shedding on paper their owner later used to wrap the explosive devices. You can’t fault cats for shedding.”

He said there’s no doubt these are the right cats. “The fur of all three exhibits white hair. That’s true even of Puffy Poff, who is mostly orange but has a couple of white spots on her underside.” He assured the press that DNA testing will confirm the hair belongs to one of the Poff cats.

A reliable source, speaking on condition of anonymity, however, said he’s not so sure. “They know more than they’re telling,” he said. “It’s impossible to get anything out of suspects that keep falling asleep in the middle of questioning. And every time Muffy rolled over, Specie gave her a belly rub. Specie’s always been soft on cats.”

The early morning raid, which involved a number of federal agents as well as a Houston PD Swat team on stand-by, rocked this usually quiet community to its very core.

“I could tell something was going down,” said neighbor Esther Bolliver. “I was outside watering my rose bushes when I saw these men wearing dark suits and ties crouching behind Julia’s privet hedge. One of them was holding out what looked to be a can of sardines, and saying, ‘Kitty kitty kitty,’ in a high-pitched voice, you know, like you use whenever you call cats. I thought it was Animal Control.”

Mrs. Bolliver ran inside and told her husband. “I said, ‘Bert, come outside and look,'” she said.

“I knew they was G-Men first thing,” said Bert Bolliver. “It was the fedoras gave ’em away. Animal Control don’t wear fedoras.”

Puffy

Ten-year-old Jason Bolliver, who had been kept home from school with a sore throat, added that the raid was exciting. “It’s the best thing that’s happened here since my teacher had her appendix out.”

Agent Garrison Fowle (pronounced Fole), who led the raid, said capturing the cats proved remarkably easy. “The sardines did the trick. Those cats ran right over and we grabbed them and wrapped them in big terry cloth bath sheets and stuffed them into carriers. It was a snap.”

Neighbors, however, contradict Agent Fowle’s account, pointing out that the Brookshire Fire Department had to be summoned to get Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” out of a  live oak near the corner of the Poff property. It is believed she bolted because she realized the sardines were bait instead of snacks.

Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud”

While at the Poff residence, BFD EMTs bandaged second-degree scratches on Agent Fowle’s face. They also administered Benadryl to Agent Morley Banks, who had broken out in hives.

Agent Delbert Smits was airlifted to Ben Taub Hospital in Houston. Information about his condition has not been released, but Mrs. Bolliver observed Ben Taub has a first-class psychiatric emergency room, and she thinks that’s why Smits was taken all the way into Houston.

“By the time they got Pud-Pud down from that tree, the poor man was staggering around like he had a serious case of the fantods.”

After their release, Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” were relocated to an unspecified location.

Special Agent Fowle said the initial plan was to fly them to Washington, D. C., in the care of Agent Banks,  for further debriefing, but Agent Banks put the kibosh on that, saying there was no way in hell he was going to spend one more minute in the company of “those [expletive deleted] cats.” Fowle said Agent Banks has been granted sick leave until he stops itching.

When  the commotion has died down a bit, Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” will be honored for their part in the capture of their owner at a joint session of the Texas Legislature at the State Capitol in Austin and a reception hosted by Governor Greg Abbott at the Governor’s Mansion.

British Prime Minister David Cameron introduce...
British Prime Minister David Cameron introduces President Barack Obama to Larry the cat at 10 Downing Street in London, England, May 25, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) (Photo credit: Wikipedia) [Public domain]
Former President Barak Obama announced that on their next swing through Texas, he and Michelle want to take the cats out for a catfish dinner.

“Let me be clear,” President Obama said. “Although totally and completely innocent of any crime, these cats surely had a positive influence on the perp. The activity Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” witnessed was fair and balanced, targeting both a Democrat and a Republican, and as such is the first bipartisan effort I’ve come across since my first inauguration.”

After law enforcement officers left, neighbors expressed concern about the cats’ future welfare. The Bolliver family, noting the three felines spend most of the day sleeping on the hood of their Buick anyway, wanted to take them, but their offer was rejected.

Instead, Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” will make their home in Houston with Special Agent Specie.

Update: The White House has reluctantly announced that President Donald Trump will  invite the Poff cats to a gala celebration at the White House, a huge one, huger than Obama’s fish dinner or Trump’s inauguration even. Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud,” however, declined the invitation, on the grounds they will be busy that night grooming their hair.

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Kathy Waller has published stories in the anthologies MURDER ON WHEELS, LONE STAR LAWLESS, and DAY OF THE DARK, all published by Wildside Press. She co-wrote a novella, STABBED, with Manning Wolfe. She’s working on a novel. A native of Fentress, Texas, she lives in Austin with two cats and one husband.

Christmas 2022: We’re Old Enough to Do What We Want

William the Cat on Christmas Day. He snuffled wrapping paper, snuffled a box, sunned himself, and went to bed. He has a schedule and sticks to it.

Full disclosure: On Christmas Eve, I stayed up so late wrapping gifts that I fell asleep in my chair on Christmas afternoon. There weren’t many gifts, but I have poor manual dexterity. I should not be left alone in a room with a roll of Scotch tape.

David napped some, too, but that’s normal. He rises daily at 3:30 a.m. to feed William. William sees to it. An insulin-dependent diabetic, he must have his meals on schedule. Small meals, because he’s overweight and also likes to eat often. He designed the schedule. If he doesn’t eat on time, he tries to chew the carpet in the corner outside of our bedroom. We put a mat there so he can’t get to the carpet, but he claws up the mat. Hearing him, David gets out of bed and follows instructions.

After wrapping presents, I stayed up to put out William’s gift: a quilt. I bought it two apartments ago for David. My “Monet’s waterlilies” bedspread, beautiful in its day, was on its last legs. Intuiting that David didn’t want waterlilies or anything else girly, I looked for a lightweight quilt and found one advertised on Facebook. I know, I know . . . But the quilt had cats on it, and he’s a cat person, worse than I am. It’s cute, in a garish, ugly sort of way. In a past life, I’d have called it horrible. But it was a novelty, sort of a joke. And David and I are old enough to do what we want.

 

Anyway, I ordered one, queen-sized. When it didn’t come timely, I emailed the vendor and received a reassuring reply. The quilt soon followed. Before Christmas. Modified rapture! I took it upstairs and put it on the bed. It was exactly what I ordered. It fit perfectly on top of my queen-sized mattress. Corner to corner to corner to corner.

By that time, the vendor’s website had closed for orders; I couldn’t even double-check the dimensions of the quilt I’d ordered. I didn’t bother to email. I consoled myself with the thought that the maker was probably foreign and didn’t know a queen-sized quilt should hang down beyond the foot and sides (and head) of the mattress.

Consolation, however, has its limits. I hid the quilt in the cedar chest.

Last week–an epiphany–I realized William wouldn’t notice the truncation. I got it out and placed it in front of the patio door. He didn’t object to the smell of cedar, just lay down and rolled over to expose his soft underbelly to the sunbeam. David gave him a hairy, feathery thingy and broke out a new peacock feather to replace the one he’s almost destroyed, and probably eaten.

I received some lovely gifts, too: among them, a set of novels--Ivanhoe, Emma, The Scarlet Letter, Treasure Island, and Little Women–that double as coasters; a small typewriter that doubles as a phone holder (to keep my phone from sliding down inside my recliner and resisting extraction);  a hedgehog, the spit-and-image of Beatrix Potter’s Mrs. Tiggywinkle, that doubles as a mug; and a tin of sardines, the best I’ve ever eaten. They’re made of French chocolate. I’m trying to make them last. So far most of them have survived for forty-eight hours.

I won’t describe the gifts I gave David. Suffice it to say that most either plug in, are rechargeable, or run on batteries. They came with manuals, which David reads before trying to operate them. Another is for organizing batteries.

And that is the story of Christmas morning 2022. At noon we reprised our Thanksgiving fare–ice cream.

That may be another reason we napped afterward.

But we’re old enough to do what we want.

Beware This Boy

 

Spirit of Christmas Present: Will you profit by what I’ve shown you of the good in most men’s hearts?

Ebenezer Scrooge: I don’t know. How can I promise?

Spirit: If it is too hard a lesson for you to learn, then learn this lesson.

Scrooge: Spirit are these yours?

Spirit: They are man’s. They cling to me for protection from their fetters. This boy is ignorance. This girl is want. Beware them both, but most of all, beware this boy.

***

Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol during a period when the British were exploring and re-evaluating past Christmas traditions, including carols, and newer customs such as Christmas trees. He was influenced by the experiences of his own youth and by the Christmas stories of other authors, including Washington Irving and Douglas Jerrold. Dickens had written three Christmas stories prior to the novella, and was inspired following a visit to the Field Lane Ragged School, one of several establishments for London’s street children. The treatment of the poor and the ability of a selfish man to redeem himself by transforming into a more sympathetic character are the key themes of the story. There is discussion among academics as to whether this was a fully secular story, or if it is a Christian allegory.

Published on 19 December, the first edition sold out by Christmas Eve; by the end of 1844 thirteen editions had been released. Most critics reviewed the novella favourably. The story was illicitly copied in January 1844; Dickens took legal action against the publishers, who went bankrupt, further reducing Dickens’s small profits from the publication. He went on to write four other Christmas stories in subsequent years. In 1849 he began public readings of the story which proved so successful he undertook 127 further performances until 1870, the year of his death. A Christmas Carol has never been out of print and has been translated into several languages; the story has been adapted many times for film, stage, opera and other media.

Author William Thackeray “wrote that A Christmas Carol was ‘a national benefit and to every man or woman who reads it, a personal kindness.'”

~ Wikipedia

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Images

“Ignorance and Want” by John Leech, from the original edition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol,1843. {{PD-US-expired}} Via Wikipedia

Charles Dickens in 1842, the year before A Christmas Carol was written, by Francis Alexander. {{PD-US-expired}}

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A Christmas Carol (1951), Alistair Sim

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The Melody Maids at Christmas, 1967

The Prairie Lea High School Melody Maids perform at the San Marcos Rotary Club meeting, December 1967.

  1. Kathy Waller
  2. Guest
  3. Shirley Hendricks
  4. Sherry Eby
  5. Kathy Pitts
  6. Sally Barber
  7. Patsy Kimball (Director)
  8. Sally Bagley

White lines on the picture cover names that I restored in the list above.

Letter from the North Pole, 1957

A little late for Christmas correspondence, but this Christmas memory is one of my happiest.

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Lacking a fireplace at my house, I mailed my letters to Santa Claus at the post office in downtown Fentress, Texas. I always asked for a lot of presents. The list grew longer after I learned to spell and didn’t have to draw  pictures. I knew I wouldn’t get everything I wanted, but there was no harm in asking.

I don’t remember writing the letter below, and I can’t decipher the drawings. The first must be a doll; I always asked for a doll and always received one–my mother loved dolls. The green thing next to it has what looks like wheels and might be a doll buggy, but I already had one of those. I wheeled my dolls in it, and also two of my puppies.

Regarding the things that look like nightgowns, tee-shirts, and pajamas, I am flummoxed. I usually received clothing, but not because I’d asked Santa for it. I already had a Davy Crockett outfit, complete with coonskin cap, and who could ask for more? I didn’t expect him to load down his sleigh with boring necessities like sweaters and underwear. 

One year the most precious and most memorable gift arrived early: During his busiest time of the year, Santa Claus took time to reply to my letter. 

As proof, I’m posting not just his letter but the envelope it came in as well. Judging from the postmark and the reference to Sputnik, I had just turned six.

It takes a lot of stamps to get a letter from the North Pole to Texas.

It also helps when your Uncle Joe is the postmaster.

 

 

The Road to Bethlehem

THE ROAD TO BETHLEHEM

If as Herod, we fill our lives with things and again things;
If we consider ourselves so important that we must fill
Every moment of our lives with action;
When will we have the time to make the long slow journey
Across the burning desert as did the Magi;
Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds;
Or to brood over the coming of the Child as did Mary?
For each one of us there is a desert to travel,
A star to discover,
And a being within ourselves to bring to life.

~ Author Unknown

Casper (name)

Journey of the Magi (1902) by James Tissot. Public domain. Via Wikipedia.

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“The Road to Bethlehem” appears on other websites, where it’s attributed to Anonymous. If you know who wrote it, please share the name and, if possible, other documentation, in a comment, so I can give the poet credit for his creation and can search for copyright information. Until I know more, I will assume the poem is in the public domain. If it’s under copyright, I’ll delete it.

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Find “The Road to Bethlehem” on these pages:

http://macrina-underthesycamoretree.blogspot.com/2009/12/desert-star-emerging-life.html
http://blueeyedennis-siempre.blogspot.com/2010/11/advent-prayer-and-poems-i.html

Hansel and Gretel and Cuthbert and Me

This is the story of Cuthbert, a five-year-old boy who visited
my school library
for twenty minutes every week.
My job was to teach him about the library.
I’m not sure what his job was.
But he was very good at it.

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Once upon a time, I read “Hansel and Gretel” to a class of kindergarteners. The audience, sitting rapt at my feet, comprised sixteen exceptionally good listeners, a fact I later regretted.

Arthur Rackham, illustration to Hansel and Gretel
Arthur Rackham, illustration to Hansel and Gretel (Photo credit: Wikipedia). Public domain.

While I read, Cuthbert sat on the floor beside my chair and stroked my panty-hose-clad shin. Small children find panty-hose fascinating.

When I reached, “And they lived happily ever after,” Cuthbert stopped stroking and tugged on my skirt. I ceded him the floor.

“But it’s a good thing, what the witch did.”

Because he spoke kindergartener-ese and I sometimes didn’t, I thought I had misunderstood. Come again?

“It’s really a good thing, what the witch did.”

I should have slammed the book shut right then, or pulled out the emergency duct tape, or something, anything to change the subject. But I’m not very smart, so I asked Cuthbert to elaborate.

His elaboration went like this:

When the witch prepared the hot oven to cook and then eat Hansel, she was doing a good thing. Because then Hansel would die and go to Heaven to be with God and Jesus.

I smiled a no doubt horrified smile and said something like But But But. While Cuthbert explained even more fully, I analyzed my options.

a) If I said, No, the witch did a bad thing, because it is not nice to cook and eat little boys and girls, then sixteen children would go home and report, Miss Kathy said it’s bad to go to Heaven and be with God and Jesus.

b) If I said, Yes, the witch did a good thing, because cooking and eating little boys and girls ensures their immediate transport Heavenward, then sixteen children would go home and report, Miss Kathy approves of cold-blooded murder and cannibalism. Plus witchcraft. Plus reading a book about a witch, which in our Great State is sometimes considered more damaging than the murder/cannibalism package.

c) Anything I said might be in complete opposition to what Cuthbert’s mother had told him on this topic, and he would report that to her, and then I would get to attend a conference that wouldn’t be nearly so much fun as it sounds.

Note: The last sentence under b) is not to be taken literally. It is sarcasm, and richly deserved. The earlier reference to emergency duct tape is hyperbole. I’ve never duct taped a child.

Well, anyway, I wish I could say the sky opened and a big light bulb appeared above my head and gave me words to clean up this mess. But I don’t remember finding any words at all, at least sensible ones. I think I babbled and stammered until the teacher came to repossess her charges.

I do remember Cuthbert was talking when he left the room. There’s no telling what his classmates took away from that lesson.

If I’d been in my right mind, I might have said something to the effect that God and Jesus don’t like it when witches send people to Heaven before they’re expected.

But the prospect of talking theology with this independent thinker froze my neural pathways.

And anyway, it took all the energy I had to keep from laughing.

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“Hansel and Gretel and Cuthbert and Me” appeared on this blog in 2011 and again in 2012. I repost because Halloween cries out for scary stories, and when it happened, this was pretty darned scary.

The discussion about  fairy tales and religion took place twenty years ago. I think about it often and feel lucky I’ve never had a nightmare about it. But I remember Cuthbert fondly for giving me both the worst and the best day of my career. He was a cute little boy.

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Banner image by M. H. from Pixabay

Eye of Tot, and Toe of Tad…

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
                        ~ Wm. Shakespeare, Macbeth

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Two witches stand over a boiling cauldron, one stirring, the other sampling the brew from a spoon.

And the stirrer says to the sampler, “I only use local children.”

If Shakespeare had been a locavore, he might have written the passage like this.

Or not.

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Eye of tot, and toe of tad,
Lambkin’s hair, and lip of lad,
Nipper’s nose, and small fry’s ear,
Moppet’s tooth, and rug rat’s tear,
But for charms of most unrest,–
Teenyboppers serve up best.

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The inspiration for the above flight of fancy was a cartoon I saw on Facebook in 2015. The cartoonist is Jeff Stahler.

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Image of cauldron by Jalyn Bryce from Pixabay

The Maven: A Poe-ish Poem for Halloween

2018-10-20 ttm pixabay poe cc0 pd writer-17565_640

I would say this post is back by popular demand, but I’d be lying. No one has demanded it. I’m posting it because it’s almost Halloween, and because I had fun writing it way back when, and because I want to post it.

To learn why I wrote it, read on. If you don’t care why I wrote it, skip the next part, but the poem will be easier to understand if you just keep reading.

*****

Why? Because–A friend called to confirm that David and I would meet her and her husband the next day for the Edgar Allan Poe exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center. She mentioned that her house was being leveled for the second time in three years*: “There are thirteen men under my house.”

I hooked up Edgar Allan Poe with the number thirteen and house with Usher and wrote the following verse.

Note: Tuck and Abby are my friends’ dogs.

Another note: Maven means expert. I looked it up to make sure.

*

THE MAVEN

To G. and M. in celebration
of their tenth trimester
of home improvement,
with  affection.
Forgive me for making
mirth of melancholy.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a rapping,

As of someone gently tapping, tapping at my chamber floor.

“‘Tis some armadillo,” said I, “tapping at my chamber floor,

Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the dry September,

And my house was sinking southward, lower than my bowling score,

Pier and beam and blocks of concrete, quiet as Deuteron’my’s cat feet,

Drooping like an unstarched bedsheet toward the planet’s molten core.

“That poor armadillo,” thought I, “choosing my house to explore.

He’ll squash like an accordion door.”

“Tuck,” I cried, “and Abby, come here! If my sanity you hold dear,

Go and get that armadillo, on him all your rancor pour.

While he’s bumping and a-thumping, give his rear a royal whumping,

Send him hence with head a-lumping, for this noise do I abhor.

Dasypus novemcinctus is not a beast I can ignore

Clumping ‘neath my chamber floor.”

While they stood there prancing, fretting, I imparted one last petting,

Loosed their leashes and cried “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war.

As they flew out, charged with venom, I pulled close my robe of denim.

“They will find him at a minimum,” I said, “and surely more,

Give him such a mighty whacking he’ll renounce forevermore

Lumbering ‘neath my chamber floor.”

But to my surprise and wonder, dogs came flying back like thunder.

“That’s no armadillo milling underneath your chamber floor.

Just a man with rule and level, seems engaged in mindless revel,

Crawling round. The wretched devil is someone we’ve seen before,

Measuring once and measuring twice and measuring thrice. We said, ‘Señor,

Get thee out or thee’s done for.'”

“Zounds!” I shouted, turning scarlet. “What is this, some vill’nous varlet

Who has come to torment me with mem’ries of my tilting floor?”

Fixing myself at my station by my floundering foundation,

Held I up the quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.

“Out, you cad!” I said, “or else prepare to sleep beneath my floor,

Nameless there forever more.”

Ere my words had ceased resounding, with their echo still surrounding,

Crawled he out, saluted, and spoke words that chilled my very core.

“I been down there with my level, and those piers got quite a bevel.

It’s a case of major evolution: totter, tilt galore.

Gotta fix it right away, ma’am, ‘less you want your chamber floor

At a slant forevermore.”

At his words there came a pounding and a dozen men came bounding

From his pickup, and they dropped and disappeared beneath my floor.

And they carried beam and hammer and observed no rules of grammar,

And the air was filled with clamor and a clanging I deplore.

“Take thy beam and take thy level and thy failing Apgar score

And begone forevermore.”

But they would not heed my prayer, and their braying filled the air,

And it filled me with despair, this brouhaha that I deplore.

“Fiend!” I said. “If you had breeding, you would listen to my pleading,

For I feel my mind seceding from its sane and sober core,

And my house shall fall like Usher.” Said the leader of the corps,

“Lady, you got no rapport.”

“How long,” shrieked I then in horror, “like an ominous elm borer,

Like a squirrely acorn storer will you lurk beneath my floor?

Prophesy!” I cried, undaunted by the chutzpah that he flaunted,

And the expertise he vaunted. “Tell me, tell me, how much more?”

But he strutted and he swaggered like a man who knows the score.

Quoth the maven, “Evermore.”

He went off to join his legion in my house’s nether region

While my dogs looked on in sorrow at that dubious guarantor.

Then withdrawing from this vassal with his temperament so facile

I went back into my castle and I locked my chamber door.

“On the morrow, they’ll not leave me, but will lodge beneath my floor

Winter, spring, forevermore.”

So the hammering and the clamoring and the yapping, yawping yammering

And the shrieking, squawking stammering still are sounding ‘neath my floor.

And I sit here sullen, slumping in my chair, and dream the thumping

And the armadillo’s bumping is a sound I could adore.

For those soles of boots from out the crawlspace ‘neath my chamber floor

Shall be lifted—Nevermore!

*

The reason the house was leveled twice in three years is a story in itself, not to be told here.

William, the Road Home

Heading home

Cocoon, Day 3: less artfully constructed than on Day 1

Blocked from getting in floor; plowing through to front seat; blocked again

Intrepid explorer; access to front seat still blocked

Cruising again

Tired, bored, or resigned to being blocked; snoozing on the interstate

Preparing for touchdown

The last leg of the journey

 

Some of Us Are Out of Breath

 

Home from my tri-weekly infusion, I walked from the car to the apartment, plopped down in my chair, and thought–

“For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!”

Do not neglect your Poetry.

There is a line for every occasion.

*********************

“The Walrus and the Carpenter,” by Lewis Carroll

Plus Oysters.

One of the best poems ever, bar none.

The Walrus and the Carpenter  (“. . . marries restaurant to fishing pub”)

Oysters here, too.

In Seattle, so I haven’t visited. Yet.

 

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Image: The Walrus and the Carpenter speaking to the Oysters, as portrayed by illustrator John Tenniel.  Wikipedia. Public domain.