A dove strolled across our patio last week. Soft brown, a graceful, gentle visitor.
Squirrels appear occasionally but finding no acorns, swish their tails and move on.
Last week, two chameleons crawled up the screen, prompting Ernest to move.
Ours is a quiet life.
Then one afternoon David said, “There’s a snake on the patio.”
He said it in the voice he uses to announce the arrival of the Amazon truck. Nothing to get excited about.
I went berserk. Grabbed the camera, ran to the window. But before memorializing the event, I checked the tail and the complexion. The tail was small and pointy, and the spots were spots, not diamonds. I relaxed.
But it was a snake nonetheless.
Please spare me the explanation that snakes are God’s creatures, that they eat rats and other things that aren’t good for us, that they merit respect and benevolence.
I know they’re God’s creatures, but so are sharks, and I don’t care to cozy up to them either.
I once held the rear end of a boa constrictor and know snakes are soft and silky and sweet when they’re not swallowing goats.
But I take the Biblical view—a snake is a serpent. If it stays in its tree where I can’t see it and doesn’t try to strike up a conversation or ooze down and bruise my heel or the heels of my pets or my livestock, then I won’t try to bruise its head.
But if it has rattles on its tail or venom in its fangs, or if it surprises me by its presence, then I’ll grab the nearest shotgun and try to blow it to kingdom come, although I know practically nothing about shotguns because the only time I got to shoot one my daddy made me aim it into the river.
I don’t want serpents on my patio, and I don’t want to wake up and find one in my bedroom, which is where this one was headed. It slithered up to the glass, looked in, then settled into the sliding door track and headed out looking for means of ingress.
David had already taken preventive measures against marauding humans. Not trusting the sliding door’s lock, he’d braced one of my never-used canes in the track inside. When the snake’s intent became obvious, David quickly stuffed a wad of paper towels in whatever space might have remained and replaced the cane.
Unable to enter, snake went along and went along. David got the big square meter stick, compliments of the Lockhart State Bank back in the ’60s, went outside, reached over the grille work, and flicked the snake off the patio. It took several flicks, but David was gentle. The snake looked surprised and a little disgusted at being launched into flight and landing on the rocks outside. But he showed no sign of pain.
I have admit to feeling a little sorry for the visitor. Temperatures are dropping, and if I lived outside, I’d seek warmer accommodations, too.
In fact, after spending six days without heat during the February Freeze of 2021, I’m tempted to go out and gather every mammal, every bird, every chameleon, and march them, two by two, inside for the winter.
But not snakes. Both the biting kind and the tempting kind belong as far away from me as I can keep them.
I gave away my dad’s shotgun, which is fortunate, because if I woke up and saw a snake, I’d probably blow myself up trying to shoot it.
But I’m going to put that Lockhart State Bank meter stick beside my bed. Just in case.
Waiting outside the vet’s while Ernest the Cat has blood drawn for a fructosamine check and playing with the Chromebook, always a pleasure since Chrome so rarely lets me log in on the first, second, or third try. Today it was fourth.
Why do browsers tell you to use your old password when the reason you changed your password in the first place was that you couldn’t remember the old one? Today I did remember the old one but Google didn’t believe me. It took a while to convince it I was me.
But no matter. I’m in.
Instead of complaining further, I’ll say that last week I posted at Ink-Stained Wretches. You might like to click over and see what was what. (About the same as what’s what now.)
You’ve possibly read bits of the post here before, but most of it is new, concerning 1) a brief update on my progress at reading all forty-seven of Anthony Trollope’s novels this year, and 2) the connection between coconut oil and cat bites.
Around the year 1900, several miles outside the little farming community of Fentress, Texas, a boy working in the field looked up and saw a funnel cloud. He ran home, shouting that that a tornado was coming.
The family gathered in the kitchen. They were frantic. The whirling black cloud was headed directly for the house. At any second, it would hit. All they could do was pray.
So they dropped to their knees and closed their eyes, and the father prayed the only prayer he could think of:
“Father, for what we’re about to receive, make us truly thankful.”
And then he jumped to his feet and shouted, “Oh, no! That won’t do!”
The story is true. My great-aunt Bettie Waller, who had known the principals, told it while her husband, Uncle Maurice, sat by and shook with silent laughter. Last fall, while going through old pictures, I found a piece of paper with story notes written on it—in my great-aunt Ethel’s handwriting—a scrap of the history of a small place.
Epilogue: The tornado turned, missed the house, and hit the barn. Neither humans nor animals were harmed.Everyone was truly thankful.
Tomorrow we end our relationship with Google Fiber. At the end of two years of excellent connectivity, I repost the verse I wrote to celebrate the beginning.
With apologies to James Whitcomb Riley
Little Google Fiber’s come to our house today,
To scramble through the attic and drag cables on the way,
And cut some boards and drill some holes and stuff some cables that
Will link up with some other stuff beside the thermostat;
But first the upstairs closet had to be cleared out for space,
The downstairs china cabinet moved and china all displaced,
“And Kathy can’t just lie in bed,” they said, “or lounge about,
‘Cause we’ll see her in her jammies
I heered ’em in the attic, flippin’, flappin’ like a bat,
And a-scritchin’ and a-scratchin’, like a sheetrock-eatin’ rat,
And the warnin’ that they said we’d get? Like knockin’ on the door,
And sayin’, all polite-like, “Ma’am? Here’s me and all my corp
Of drillers and of draggers, we don’t want to scare you none
By creatin’ a cacophony before your sleep is done,
So please wake up, get up out of bed. It puts us in a pout
When we see you in your jammies
But, no, the warning never came, and I was in still in bed,
Although my husband came upstairs an hour ‘fore and said,
“Dear, don’t you think you’d better rise and put some lipstick on
And stretch your arms and stretch your legs and give a drowsy yawn,
And don some clothes and stuff those PJs in the nearest vase,
Cause those raggedy old things reflect on us a sad disgrace,
And the Google guys will run and flee. You’ll cause a general rout
If they see you in your jammies
Though I am a thoughtful wife and always try to please,
My lids were heavy, and I stayed in bed and took my ease,
And so it was that I was still in Morpheus’ embrace
When the scritchin’ and the flappin’ up above me did take place.
And I sprang up from my bed and ran, but threw up neither sash,
Nor did I fly to ingle-side to brush aside the ash.
I screeched, “That isn’t Santa, it’s the Google men, no doubt!
And they’ll see me in my jammies
So I scrabbled and I flipped and flapped and sounded like that rat,
Although louder and lots faster, like unto a scalded cat.
“I’d be ready now,” I said, “if only Google had been nice,
And not made me move the china so my muscles needed ice,
And my body and my soul cried out, ‘This raveled sleave of care
Must be knit up, and sore labor’s bath I needs must have! O swear
That Google will not taunt me for a loathesome layabout
‘Cause they see me in my jammies
Exciting stories sometimes end in flaming denouements.
This one has a climax that is really, really blah.
I got up, brushed my hair, found clothes, as usually I do,
And dressed and, looking ‘neath the bed, dragged out my other shoe,
Went downstairs, and stared at the wall, and checked email, and when
The Google man knocked on the door, and David came, ’twas then
I said, “Ha ha ha, you cannot say, you early-rising lout,
That you saw me in my jammies,
The poem “Little Orphan Annie” was written by James Whitcomb Riley in 1885. The original title was “Little Orphant Annie,” but an error in a later printing changed the name.
The poem was inspired by Mary Alice Smith, a child who came to the home of Riley’s parents as a “bound” servant to earn her board and keep. She worked alongside Mrs. Riley and the other children and helped with housework. The Rileys referred to her as a guest and treated her as one of the family. In the evenings she told ghost stories to the children, including James, the future poet.
In the 1920s, Mary Alice Smith inspired the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” and the Raggedy Ann doll created by Johnny Gruelle.
Thanks to Wikipedia for the information shared here.
Thanks to James Whitcomb Riley for writing the delightful poem that popped into my head as soon as I heard the Google men scrabbling around in the attic. Read in just the right way, the last four lines can scare the stuffings out of a bunch of eight-year-old girls at a Brownie troop meeting.
Little Orphant Annie’s come to our house to stay,
An’ wash the cups an’ saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away,
An’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth, an’ sweep,
An’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-an’-keep;
An’ all us other childern, when the supper things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun
A-list’nin’ to the witch-tales ‘at Annie tells about,
An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you
Onc’t they was a little boy wouldn’t say his prayers,--
So when he went to bed at night, away up stairs,
His Mammy heerd him holler, an’ his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An’ when they turn’t the kivvers down, he wasn’t there at all!
An’ they seeked him in the rafter-room, an’ cubby-hole, an’ press,
An’ seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an’ ever’wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found was thist his pants an’ roundabout--
An’ the Gobble-uns’ll git you
An’ one time a little girl ‘ud allus laugh an’ grin,
An’ make fun of ever’one, an’ all her blood an’ kin;
An’ onc’t, when they was “company," an’ ole folks was there,
She mocked ‘em an’ shocked ‘em, an’ said she didn’t care!
An’ thist as she kicked her heels, an’ turn’t to run an’ hide,
They was two great big Black Things a-standin’ by her side,
An’ they snatched her through the ceilin’ ‘fore she knowed what she’s about!
An’ the Gobble-uns’ll git you
An’ little Orphant Annie says when the blaze is blue,
An’ the lamp-wick sputters, an’ the wind goes woo-oo!
An’ you hear the crickets quit, an’ the moon is gray,
An’ the lightnin’-bugs in dew is all squenched away,--
You better mind yer parents, an’ yer teachers fond an’ dear,
An’ churish them ‘at loves you, an’ dry the orphant’s tear,
An’ he’p the pore an’ needy ones ‘at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns’ll git you
When I was a child, my family lived across the street from a couple whose daughter, Denise, was almost three years old. Denise had blonde hair her mother put up in a curly little pony tail. She was as cute as a bug and as bright as a button, but not as sweet as pie. She wasn’t a holy terror, but her attitude often (most of the time) made her difficult to deal with. She was just plain contrary, and she made sure everyone knew it. Her favorite word was, “NO.”
One evening she and her mother, Phyllis, was sitting with us in our front yard, as they did nearly every summer evening. Phyllis sat in a glider and Denise stood in the seat beside her.
In the course of the conversation, Phyllis said, “We’ve had quite a day.” She went on to say–in vague terms–that there had been much discussion, much disagreement about what and how things would, and would not, be done, starting at breakfast time and running nonstop for the rest of the day–but she thought an agreement had finally been reached. Then she looked at her daughter and said, very sweetly, “But we’re not going to use that word any more, are we, Neesie?”
Denise leaned over, got right in her face, and said, in a very nasty tone, “NNNNNNNNNNO.”
The audience erupted in laughter.
And Denise beamed.
I would like to say there’s a moral to this story, but after decades of pondering, I haven’t found one. If you can think of anything, please leave it in a comment.
The following article, first published here on November 26, 2017, focuses on one of the most Shocking Crimes in the annals of our nation, and on the three Heroic Felines who helped Investigators Crack the Case.
Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” Poff Cleared of All Wrongdoing, FBI Reports
FBI crime lab investigators had found a cat hair under the address labelon 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.
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 give ’em away. Animal Control don’t wear fedoras.”
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 bigterry clothbath 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 when she realized the sardines were bait instead of snacks.
While at the Poff residence, BFD EMTs bandaged second-degree scratches on Agent Fowle’s face. They also administered Benadrylto Agent Morley Banks, who had broken out in hives.
Agent Delbert Smits was airlifted to Ben Taub Hospitalin 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 Capitolin Austin and a reception hosted by Governor Greg Abbott at the Governor’s Mansion.
Former President Barak Obama announced that on their next swing through Texas, he and Michelle want to take the cats out for a catfishdinner.
“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 spent 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.
Festivities at the Texas Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion were axed after Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” sent word they’d heard about Austin traffic and didn’t care to see it for themselves.
Special Counsel Robert Muellersent the Poff kitties a note of congratulations for a job well done.
The White House reluctantly announced that President Donald Trumpwould 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, said thanks but no thanks on the grounds they would be busy that night grooming one another’s hair.
Some consequences you can predict. Some you can’t predict. Some you should predict but don’t.
It’s the last of the three that’ll get you.
I had just read a brief bio in my memoir class and turned to leave the lectern, when something in my left hip went pop. Not an audible pop, but a pop nonetheless. I limped back to my chair.
With David (poor thing) half carrying me, I staggered across the parking lot, groaning every time my left foot touched the ground. At home, neighbors had the pleasure of hearing me ascend the steps and walk to the door. Yelp, yelp, yelp.
Getting into and out of the car was worse. I couldn’t climb in as usual.
Get into a car like Audrey Hepburn does, my mother said. Sit sideways, then swing both legs in. The Emily post method.
Phooey on Audrey and Emily.
Until hip day. That’s when I learned Audrey had an advantage. She had leather seats she could slide on. I have fabric that grabs your breeches and holds on. Entering and exiting, I didn’t yelp. I shrieked.
The pain wasn’t exactly excruciating, I guess, but it was close.
At home I fell into a chair, texted my massage therapist, whom I hadn’t seen in over a year, and begged for an appointment. That’s how panicky I was. I hate texting.
Anyway, the next day, David hauled me (shriek) to her office. She mashed my spine back into place, then laid her hands lightly around me just below the waist, and said, “How do you sit when you use your laptop? Is it right in front of you?”
And I said, “Noooooooooooooo.” And thought, Well, d’oh.
This is the way I sit when I use my laptop:
Ernest incorrectly positioned
Controlling enter key
Ernest correctly positioned
“Uh-huh,” she said, “I can tell you’ve been sitting crooked.”
So what’s girl to do?
A girl’s going to do whatever it takes to stop the pain.
But the guilt was excruciating. Ernest has only recently learned to liiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeee downnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, sometimes without being begged, or even ordered, as if it’s his own idea.
He’s the only cat I’ve ever had who followed instructions. Or, more likely, said to himself, She’s been a good and faithful servant. If this is so important to her, I’ll cooperate. I taught him to sit that way. It prevented him from laying his head on the keyboard and typing. (Once he sent an email.) I didn’t realize my hip would suffer.
And he’s a Velcro cat. He can’t help that I have to move the laptop waaaaay over to the left and stretch sideways to reach the keyboard. He needs almost constant physical contact. Denying him my lap could crush his spirit. He’s sensitive.
But for the most part, he’s done well. I gave the I-wuv-oo-oodles-but-we-can’t-go-on-sitting-like-this speech, and he gave up and moved down to lean on my leg.
Mostly. We’ve had wrestling matches. Occasionally I catch him sitting in a straight-backed chair across the room, his lips set in a grim line, staring at me. But over all, we sit in peaceful companionship.
I saw the massage therapist a second time.
My hip has improved.
And the best news is that, with practice, I’ve learned to get into a car like Audrey Hepburn.
Audrey’s legs aren’t visible in this clip, but you can get the drift. She does the swing-around about 1:35. That might not be leather upholstery, but she’s had more practice than I have.
Nov. 26: Ordered quilt online; multi-cat design; not quilt in picture, and not cat either
Nov. 27: Received email confirmation; processing time 5-7 days; everything handmade and impeccably “sawn”; hoped quilt would be more impeccable than proofreading
Dec. 1, 4, 7, and 8: Received emails re more quilts available for order
Dec. 10: Received email re quilt finished, ready to ship, tracking number to follow
Dec. 10: Received email re discounts on six other quilts
Dec. 11: Received email re same discount on same six quilts
Dec. 12 – Jan. 17: Received no emails at all
Jan. 17: Emailed company re Where is my quilt/Did I miss an email with tracking number?; very polite
Jan. 18: Received email re Quilt is ready and on the way.
Jan. 24: Received quilt
Jan. 25: Put queen quilt on queen bed; quilt barely covered top of queen mattress; I kid you not
Jan 25: Measured queen quilt
Jan. 25: Pulled up company website to check dimensions of ordered queen quilt; website down until all quilts ordered before Christmas have been shipped
Jan. 26 – present: Considering options:
Email company re Did I receive double or twin quilt in error? and if so, I’ll send quilt back in exchange for queen quilt
Email company re I will send quilt back and await refund (and hope refund arrives before end of 2019)
Email company re I will send quilt back in exchange for king quilt (since queen might not be large enough either) and will send more money as soon as I receive king quilt
Email company after website is back up and I know exact dimensions of queen quilt I ordered and have better idea of what more action to take
Email now re usual 30-day limit on returns
Email company re what I’m really thinking
Email re I’ll volunteer to help package and ship quilts ordered before Christmas (possibly necessitating a trip to China, where I suspect they’re made)
Rive my hair and wail like a banshee
Put quilt on dowel and hang on wall
It’s a silly quilt, cute in a kind of ugly way, but I finally decided I might as well adopt the title of Cat Lady and stick images of cats all over the house. And I thought Cat Gentleman would like cat quilt, since he adopted his title years ago. Quilt was supposed to be a Christmas present.
I ordered late and thus knew Santa Claus might not bring quilt on the First Day of Christmas, but I assumed the Magi would deliver it by Epiphany at the latest. Now I hope to get this thing straightened out before Pentecost.
Worst case scenario, the correct quilt will arrive in time for Advent. And I’ll give it to Cat Gentleman for Christmas.
Blogging with a theme would have helped. Instead of choosing topics, I’m wallowing around in a sea of them, waiting for one to come to my rescue.
April was a ready-made topic for Day A, because I planned to write about Texas bluebonnets anyway, and April is their peak time. But I could have published the same post on Day B, for bluebonnets.
Ben Hur, Day B’s official topic, appeared by chance–I checked the television schedule; I’ve always done my homework with half my brain trained on the TV–but about two paragraphs in, I remembered I had something to say about boo-boos, and say it I did. But instead of dropping Ben Hur, an any reasonable person would have done, I put Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd on hold and wrote an extra post about boo-boosfor a different blog, and then went back and finished Ben Hur. That was a big time waster.
Day C? Before choosing contrariwise, I considered contraction, Compositae,color, campfires, cats (of course) . . . chaos . . .
As I was explaining on Day C before I strayed onto Alice and Lady the Horse, I considered making contrariwise my theme for the entire challenge. Instead of blogging from A to Z, I’d have blogged from Z to A. The topic of the Day A(Z) post would have been zither, specifically the one from James Thurber’s“The Night the Ghost Got In.”
In case you’ve forgotten, Thurber says it began this way:
I had just stepped out of the bathtub and was busily rubbing myself with a towel when I heard the steps. They were the steps of a man walking rapidly around the dining-room table downstairs. The light from the bathroom shone down the back steps, which dropped directly into the dining-room; I could see the faint shine of plates on the plate-rail; I couldn’t see the table. The steps kept going round and round the table; at regular intervals a board creaked, when it was trod upon. I supposed at first that it was my father or my brother Roy, who had gone to Indianapolis but were expected home at any time. I suspected next that it was a burglar. It did not enter my mind until later that it was a ghost.
He woke his brother Herman and they went to the top of the stairs and listened. The footsteps had stopped, and Herman wanted to go back to bed, but Thurber insisted something was down there–and as soon as he said it, the invisible something ran up the steps toward them. Herman ran into his bedroom and slammed the door. Thurber slammed the door at the top of the stairs and held it closed, then cautiously opened it. No none was there. That should have been the end of the story, but in the Thurber household, nothing is ever the end.
The slamming doors woke Thurber’s mother. She decided there were burglars in the house. Because the phone was downstairs, she couldn’t call the police, so she “flung up a window of her bedroom which faced the bedroom windows of the house of a neighbor, picked up a shoe, and whammed it through a pane of glass across the narrow space that separated the two houses.”
After Mrs. Thurber finally made the neighbor, Mr. Bodwell, understand the burglars were in her house, not his–which wasn’t easy, considering he’d been awakened by a shoe shattering his bedroom window, and Mrs. Bodwell was in the background saying, “We’ll sell the house and go back to Peoria”–he called the police.
The police came and broke the door down (Mrs. Thurber wouldn’t allow her son to go downstairs to let them in because he was still dressed in a bath towel and would have caught his death of cold). A search ensued:
Downstairs, we could hear the tromping of the other police. Police were all over the place; doors were yanked open, drawers were yanked open, windows were shot up and pulled down, furniture fell with dull thumps. A half-dozen policemen emerged out of the darkness of the front hallway upstairs. They began to ransack the floor: pulled beds away from walls, tore clothes off hooks in the closets, pulled suitcases and boxes off shelves. One of them found an old zither that Roy had won in a pool tournament. “Looky here, Joe,” he said, strumming it with a big paw. The cop named Joe took it and turned it over. “What is it?” he asked me. “It’s an old zither our guinea pig used to sleep on,” I said. It was true that a pet guinea pig we once had would never sleep anywhere except on the zither, but I should never have said so. Joe and the other cop looked at me a long time. They put the zither back on a shelf.
Had contrariwise been the theme, that’s what I would have written about on Day A. What I’d have posted on Days B(Y) and C(X), I don’t know.
Nor do I know what I’ll write about today, on Day D. But by Day E, I’ll have something worked out.
Ogden Nash wrote over 500 humorous poems, says Wikipedia. One of his daughters said he wrote so much about daughters that when she was a teenager, she suffered perpetual embarrassment. I read an article in which she said that. I can’t document the article, but I did read it.
Last month,New York Timescolumnist Nicholas Kristoffannounced a contest for Trump poems. Guidelines called for verses written from any political stance. I wrote two sonnets but forgot the October 8 deadline for submission. It seemed a shame to let them languish on the hard drive, so I share them here. The first appears below. Views expressed are mine alone and reflect my rights as set out in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. President Putin would call them disrespectful, but he is not the boss of me.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art too blowy and inelegant.
Sweet-scented, like the darling buds of May?
Thou art like offal sans refrigerant.
Thou’rt graceless, racist, foul-mouthed, cold, and mean,
Misogynistic; driven to inflame
Rank passions: malice, hatred, spite, and spleen.
The sun doth blush and hide his face in shame.
A tweeting fool a-twitter in our ears;
A braying donkey sends forth sweeter sound,
And tells more truth, than thy bleats breeding fears.
The Ship of State thy bullying runs aground.
But when bold Nancy plays her final card,
Thou’ll find thyself hoist on thine own petard.
We arrived at Pocket Sandwich Theatre in time to hear the last scenes of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Judging from the chorus of boos and hisses and the popcorn blanketing the floor, the audience had a rollicking good time.
Not as good a time as David and I had, of course.
Only one thing is missing. William and Ernest, who made it all possible, couldn’t be with us. Or, more accurately, wouldn’t be with us. Since that ill-fated trip to the vet last June, the sight of a suitcase sends them flying under the bed. A vet tech now comes to the house twice daily when we’re away to feed them and give William his insulin injection.
They like her. After eight years of hiding from company, William sashayed out, snuffled her hand, and invited her to give him a tummy rub. They agreed to star in “Invisible Men Invade Earth,” but that was when they were young. They have since given up the stage. Awards mean nothing to them.
David and I, though, are officially chuffed. And we’ll stay that way for the next couple of days at least.
*In truth, David’s video was declared winner early this morning. The program started at 11:15 p.m. last night and it comprised twelve videos and one intermission plus intros and miscellaneous talk, so the awards portion didn’t roll around till about 2:00 a.m.
Isabel did read Italian; if she had any difficulty with La Repubblica, it was with understanding the complexities of Italian politics. But that, she suspected, was the case with everybody’s politics. And it was not just a linguistic difference; she could never understand how American politics worked. It appeared that the Americans went to the polls every four years to elect a President who had wide powers. But then, once he was in office, he might find himself unable to do any of the things he had promised to do because he was blocked by other politicians who could veto his legislation. What was the point, then, of having an election in the first place? Did people not resent the fact that they spoke on a subject and then nothing could be done about it? But politics had always seemed an impenetrable mystery to her in her youth. She remembered what her mother had once said to her about some American politician to whom they were distantly related. “I don’t greatly care for him,” she said. “Pork barrel.”
Isabel had thought, as a child, that this was a bit unkind. Presumably he could not help looking like a pork barrel. But then, much later, she had come to realise that this was how politics worked. The problem was, though, that politics might work, but government did not.