A Bad Vibe

So, just yesterday I posted that I was visiting the Donkle’s spacious home and getting acquainted with the family. I had met Natasha, their reclusive cat, under the comforter in the master bedroom. I also had run into Jarmila, the maid, who had taken exception to my helping her make a bed, resulting in a lamp being knocked over. I expected to be blamed for this. I met Richard Jr., and his girlfriend, Hallie, and we watched a movie together for a while. Richard Sr., “Donk” as he likes to call himself, decided my name is Sambo. I was just getting ready to leave when I discovered that the patio door where I had entered the house had been closed, so I was deciding what to do next. I was in the kitchen when I overheard Jarmila talking in the hallway. As I have told you, I don’t understand Polish, but I had no doubt that she was talking about her interaction with me and the resultant damage to the lamp shade. I heard the phrase “czarny kot” several times. She uttered the phrase with venomous feeling. She was speaking with Bianca, Donk’s wife, and the two of them headed off to view the scene of the crime. Moments later Donk walked in, Joker trailing behind him. Donk got out a bag of dry dog food and dumped some into a bowl. He looked up and saw me.

“Well, hello, Sambo. Are you still here?” He opened the refrigerator and got out some heavy cream and put it in a bowl for me. I had become a little hungry, so I was grateful for the treat. And what a treat! I never got anything at home that was nearly so wonderful. Bianca came back into the kitchen. She looked at me with suspicion.

“Oh, there he is,” she said.  “Richard, what are you feeding that cat?”

“Just some cream,” he replied. “Cats love the stuff.”

“Don’t feed that cat. Mila told me he knocked over a lamp in  Richie’s room. If you feed him we will never get rid of him.” She cast a disapproving, mildly disgusted look in my direction.

“Sambo is a good cat,” said Donk. “I like him.” Joker came over and wanted to share the cream, so I let her. She was a pleasant, non-aggressive dog. Other dogs and people should be more like Joker.

“Mila was going to use that cream to make a pie,” she said.

“I’ll pick some more up on my way home. I have to go,” said Donk. “Homeowner’s Association meeting tonight.” He grabbed a light jacket from a closet off the foyer and left through the front door.

I had heard Mike and Judy talk about the Homeowner’s Association. A controversy had come up about a plan, instigated by Richard Donkle Sr., to transition Happy Meadows into a gated community. Donk thought that “undesirables” were coming through the neighborhood and putting the residents and their property at risk. He was encountering opposition from many residents, Mike and Judy included, who rightly pointed out that the only police calls to the neighborhood involved the residents themselves. A few noise complaints from residents about  unruly teenagers whose drunken parties spilled out onto the front lawn from time to time, or the periodic calls from the Kings whose domestic disputes sometimes got out of hand. Things like that. There was also nothing in the budget for Donk’s project. He was proposing that the city pay for it, saying that the safety and well-being of the Happy Meadows residents were jeopardized by the riff-raff, thieves, and rapists from outside the bounds of Happy Meadows. So far, the city council had refused to even discuss his request, and no one thought it would happen. So that would mean a special assessment of the residents. No one thought that would happen either. People find things to dispute about that would never interest a cat. But at some level, it comes from a sense of territoriality and personal and community space that people share with the four-leggeds of the world. For cats, it is much less about community space than for dogs or people. We are much more independent and self-contained, generally speaking. But anxiety about safety seems to be an innate characteristic of living things. It makes sense. At some level it is all about survival……eat or be eaten. Even one-celled creatures that can propel themselves have only two options: move towards a stimulus (eat or mate) or away from it (pain or be eaten). It is the basis of all tribal warfare and xenophobia. Fortunately, cats have evolved beyond this primitive way of existing for the most part, but many people remain mired in this destructive nonsense. They even have religious disputes, rivalries, and even wars, completely overlooking the imperative that God has placed on humans to love each other and take care of the world, and especially, to care for cats.

So, there I was, looking like I was going to spend the evening with the Donkles. I groomed myself there in the foyer, because whenever cats are indecisive, we cover it up by appearing to engage in  purposeful activity. The front doorbell rang. Richie opened the door and let in 3 of his friends, 2 girls and a young man. The hair on the back of my neck bristled. I picked up a bad vibe as they came into the house and headed downstairs. I decided to follow them and see what they were up to.

Glupi kot!

So, it’s time to get caught up on a couple of things. It wasn’t that long ago that we had men working on the outside of the house. They tore off the old siding and put up new siding and painted the house. To me it looks just about the way it did before. I don’t know what the point of all that was, but at least it’s quiet and peaceful around here again. Jackson seems to have his business going again quite nicely. Judy has taken to adding Metamucil to our wet food treat, a development that we are all celebrating by passing large moist well-formed poops.The only downside to the addition to the wet food is that if we don’t eat it right away it forms into a gelatinous fish-flavored mass which some people would think is quite disgusting. On the positive side, if someone happens to knock the bowl over as happened the other day, the wet food sticks to the bottom of the bowl and doesn’t slop out onto the floor, carpet, or where ever it happens to be. When Mike was in college the 1st semester in the cafeteria there was something called “the test” that was applied to certain foods. A dish passed the test if you could turn the plate upside down and nothing fell. This happened regularly with desserts, but one day Mike says that the pancakes and syrup passed the test. The beef stew almost passed the test one day, so that was a little messy.I know you will be glad to hear about all of this.

We also need to get caught up on my visit to Dick Donkle’s house. I had started to tell you about this in my post “Veni, Vidi, Vici” from March 26, 2017. So, I walked through his sliding patio door and found myself in a large kitchen. There were a couple of big water bowls on the floor for the dogs as well as some food bowls. The food bowls of course were empty. One of the things I noticed as soon as I entered is that there was a cat that lives in the house. So I started to explore the house looking for the other cat. The Donkle’s house is much bigger than Mike and Judy’s house, so it took a while to check the whole place out. I went upstairs and found a master bedroom. The cat smell was stronger in there. I jumped up on the bed and noticed a cat-shaped lump under the comforter. So I poked my head under the comforter and worked my way towards the  lump until I heard a hiss. I decided not to get any closer. I would try to make friends with this other cat some other time. I looked around some more and walked into another bedroom where there was a woman wearing a housemaid’s uniform. She was doing some dusting and straightening up. She pulled all the linens off of the bed and started remaking it with clean linens. I jumped up on the bed to help her. I do this for Mike and Judy all the time and they seem to appreciate it. They call me their chamber cat. Well, this lady seemed to not appreciate my assistance whatsoever. She seemed quite upset as she tried to shoo me out of the room saying “Wynos sie stad, glupi kot! Dostaniesz swoje czarne wlosy na moje czyste lozko!” (By the way, you may recall that I have already told you that I don’t understand Polish. If you are interested you can find a website that will translate Polish into English. Mike uses Google translate.) So we chased around the room some until she picked up a dustmop and started swatting at me with it. I probably should have just left quietly in the first place, because it wasn’t long before a lamp on a bedside table went flying through the air. The lamp didn’t break but the shade was bent up and pretty well ruined. I’m pretty sure it was the maid who knocked the lamp over with the mop but I was even more sure that I was going to get blamed for it. So I walked out to the hall and immediately stopped and started grooming myself. I wanted her to know that I was getting ready to leave anyway. No problem here! The house was so big that nobody out on the patio could hear the commotion, and no one came running to see what all the fuss was about. Before I left the upstairs I checked on the master bedroom again and verified that the lump was still in position on top of the bed under the comforter.

I went back downstairs, found another stairway, and went down  and found myself in a home theater where Dick Donkle Jr. was watching a movie with his girlfriend. I felt good chemistry with her and jumped into her lap. She was very sweet and scratched me behind the ears and said sweet things to me. It was time for a nap. I’m not sure how much later she nudged me to get up, so I jumped down and sniffed around some more. When I finally got around to leaving, I found that the patio door had slid shut and I was trapped in the house. No worries. If there’s another cat there must be cat food and a litter box, so I knew I would be set; and, there was plenty more to explore.

 

It wasn’t a nutmeg seed after all.

So, it has been a while since I have made a post, for which I apologize. I realize that I left you all hanging as I was about to walk into Dick Donkle’s house and snoop around. Of course, this is a common literary device, to create some dramatic tension at the end of an episode and then disappear for a while. Speaking of “disappear for a while”, this is the last phrase that anyone ever heard Thomas Merton say. You must know who Thomas Merton was. He was a Trappist priest who was a superlative spiritual writer, and an antiwar activist. He was in Thailand attending a conference of monastics from various religions, and he had given a talk just before a scheduled break. At the end of his talk he is said to have said, “let’s all take a break. I think I’ll have a Coca-Cola and disappear for a while.” During the break he went to his room where he reportedly took a shower, and had the misfortune of both getting a puddle of water on the floor and knocking over an electric fan while he was standing in said  puddle, the result of which is that he met the Lord forthwith. So, his disappearance was more permanent than he had anticipated. Thomas Merton is one of Mike’s heroes. Mike read his autobiography, “The Seven- Storey Mountain”, at a point in his life when he had hit a wall on his own spiritual path, and the book was exactly what he needed at that time to get himself redirected and re-energized spiritually. But I digress.

A lot has gone on which furnishes me with my excuse for why you haven’t heard from me recently. For one thing, Mike and Judy went off for a few days. I don’t know if they needed a vacation or not, but they took one. As I have said before, I need Mike’s help to get my blog out. Michelle came by and scooped, fed, and watered us, and played with us for a while every day. She is very sweet. She would probably have her own cat if she were not so allergic. She has to dose herself and her nose up pretty well in order to tolerate being around us at all. Then, this past weekend Jackson got sick. As you might expect, he waited until late Saturday afternoon when Mike and Judy couldn’t get our regular Dr. Jeff, the Extreme Vet, to see about him. So Jackson started throwing up about 5 in the afternoon and was acting puny. Mike and Judy tried to talk themselves into waiting to see how he was going to be in the morning, but around 11 in the evening  they packed him up and hauled him off to the emergency vet. They diagnosed a fecal impaction and kept him for the rest of the weekend, giving him enemas, laxatives, intravenous fluids, and making him generally miserable. Judy went and got him Monday and brought him over to our beloved Happy Meadows Veterinary Clinic, (known to all the neighborhood pets as the Extreme Vet), where they gave him more enemas and kept him until he pooped, and then sent him home. Was he ever glad to see us all again and to be in his familiar surroundings. He was pretty well cleaned out by the time he got home. Mike and Judy have been keeping him isolated so they can make sure that his digestive tract has become once again functional without extraordinary measures. I hadn’t given it that much thought, but I had noticed that he had been acting a little weird recently, and that when he had passed a stool, he was passing dry spherical poops that looked almost exactly like nutmeg seeds. If you have never seen one, go online and look it up,and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Well, this morning Mike and Judy got up extra early and left the house. I noticed Mike didn’t have his usual coffee and toast. They came back a couple of hours later. Mike was looking for all the world like he had just been on an all-nighter, barely being able to walk in a straight line or keep his eyes open. He made coffee and had some matzot and immediately fell asleep in his chair. I wonder what that was all about. Oh, did I mention that it’s  Passover now? I don’t think so. Mike and Judy had their annual Seder on Monday night this week. The usual suspects attended. They always have a very nice time and eat well. I always like to hear the story of the liberation of the Jewish people and their exodus from Egypt where they had been enslaved. I am all about freedom. An amusing thing happened at the Seder last year. When Michelle opened the door to let Elijah the prophet in, in walked Nevermore, the dog who lives up the street. If you have been reading my blog up until now, you would know about her already. She has a habit of turning up where she’s not wanted. Anyway, she’s a pretty sweet dog and didn’t stay long or cause any trouble. It was just a situation in which her owners had let her out to do her business and she had decided to take a short stroll and sniff around. If somebody opens a door, what else is she going to do but walk in? She told me she really wasn’t looking for the children of Israel. Anyway, she was not interested in sampling the gefilte fish, and she left without much persuasion.

I see I got off track again. So, while Mike dozed off in his chair, and Judy went upstairs to take a nap, Jackson finally got his business working, and passed a perfectly normal, un-nutmeg seed-like poop, and he has been let out of jail with much acclamation. Or maybe this is too much information. Whatever. If you’re not interested in my life, feel free to stop reading about it. (Mike just told me that’s rude and I should take it out, but I’m leaving it in. Nowadays, people seem to be able to say whatever they want to and put it out there for the whole world, whether they’re interested or not or whether it’s true or not. My neighbor, Dick Donkle, regularly sends out tweet-storms about the homeowners association, of which he is president, and about our neighborhood, Happy Meadows. He and I are  alike in that we are both interested in communicating, and we both hope that people read what we say, agree with us, and admire us. Where we differ, is that you can rely on the veracity of what I tell you, and he is a habitual if not pathological liar. But I digress once again.)

I believe today is Good Friday. For Christians, this is a sacred day which commemorates the crucifixion of their Savior. As a cat, I have a lot of respect for religious and spiritual custom and ceremony. We have our own beliefs about where we came from and what God means for us to be and to do. Such things are of extreme importance, and everybody’s beliefs deserve respect. I’m sure I will have more to say about feline spirituality in subsequent blogs. If you are interested, you might want to read my grandfather’s book, “Autobiography of a Georgia Cat.” He goes into this in quite a bit of detail, and in his story he relates two of our most important feline myths. I just love those stories. For Mike, this is the day where every year, once again, he realizes that he has forgotten to put the trash and recyclables out on the previous day, so we get to have it all sit around for an extra week. Lovely.

So, it looks like you’re going to have to hear about Dick Donkle’s house another time. Maybe it’s just as well, because I’m not sure it’s that interesting anyway, certainly not as interesting as the tale of the constipated cat. In the meantime, Mike and Judy and the other four-leggeds and I want to wish you a happy and blessed Passover, Easter, Vernal solstice (a little late, sorry), or whatever makes this time of year special for you. God bless.

 

 

It’s deja vu all over again.

So, you might remember that not that long ago we had a major incident at our house where all the carpet was stolen and Mike and Judy were held hostage for 3 days (The Stolen Carpet/Eating Out, posted 12/26/16.) You might remember that it all started with a truck pulling up and dropping a load of lumber in the driveway. Well, don’t you know, just a few mornings ago I was across the street from the house making my rounds, when another big truck pulled up in front of the house, and darned if he didn’t drop another load of lumber in the driveway. If that wasn’t disturbing enough, an hour or so later another truck pulled up and left the biggest litter box I ever saw in the driveway right next to the lumber. You  can imagine my alarm at this development.

BIG litterbox in the driveway

 

 

Here is a picture from the garage looking out at the street.  You can see Mike’s hamstermobile parked at the end of the driveway.  As you can also see, by the time we shot this picture the litterbox was full. And to learn what it was full of, you may read on.

The next day some other men in a big blue van drove up and unloaded a lot of equipment. Mike went out to talk to them, but he couldn’t make them leave. He left Judy and the rest of us cats in the house and went off to work, I guess. Not much spine, I’m thinking. The next thing I know, there commenced a great banging on the house, so violent that some of the tchotchkes were jumping off the shelves onto the floor. Ladybug and Jackson ran to the other side of the house where there was less noise, but Shayna Maidel was right there on it, waiting in the living room for the monster to break right through the wall and get us. It’s hard to say what she thought she was going to do about it when it happened, but as they say, curiosity killed the cat. I made my departure through the cat door while I still had the opportunity to get away. Going around the side of the house where all the noise was coming from, I saw these dudes up on ladders and scaffolding ripping the side of the house slap off! Lord, have mercy! I took off, fearful of what might happen next, but when I returned late in the day, I could see that Judy had come out and made them take the lumber in the driveway and put it up on the side of the house where they had tried to break into the living room, and all the way up the chimney. It’s too bad I don’t have pictures of this, but Mike takes the pictures, and as I said, he had run off to work and left the defense of the house to Judy and us four-leggeds. You would be shocked if you could have seen what they did to our poor house. For the next several days these dudes worked their way all around the house doing the same thing. And everywhere they ripped off the siding, Judy made them fix it up with the new planks from the driveway. They haven’t been here for a couple of days, but I don’t think its over, because the litterbox and all their stuff is still in the driveway and front yard. I must say that, surprising as it may seem, Mike and Judy don’t appear to be too upset about the whole thing. Anyway, I will keep you informed as events transpire.

 

Veni, vidi, vici!

So, around noon today I wandered through the cat door into the house. Judy greeted me with a shriek, grabbed me, kissed me all over, and then scolded me, asking where I have been. As I’m sure all of you know, it’s pointless to ask a cat where he’s been. Mystery is part of our mystique (or is that redundant?). I guess I had been gone a couple of nights. I’ve done this a couple of times recently since I have started hanging out with Dick Donkel, or “Donk” as he likes to call himself. The first time I went over there I had to straighten things out with his dogs. As I have mentioned, he has this dog, Joker, who he had entered in the ugly dog contest at Happy Meadows, and who won hands down. Joker is a mixed-breed dog with a sweet disposition, and he and I get along just fine. Donk also has four white German shepherds named Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and Clubs. These are stupid names for dogs in my opinion. But the dogs are not that bright either. He has this huge privacy fence around his estate which he had built on the far lot in the subdivision and into the swamp that he had drained and turned into a golf course. He also built a tall archway across his driveway with the word “DONK” in big capital letters across the top of the entrance. Of course, there is a security gate across the driveway, but it is designed to keep out cars and people, not cats. So I slipped right in and decided to look around. After sniffing around the entrance a bit I headed across a broad expanse of  lawn which formed part of the golf course. Pretty soon I heard a pack of dogs barking, and I looked up to see  four white German shepherds racing towards me, their eyes glowing red with rage. It all happened very fast, and I hope they got it on the security camera, but in a flash I had nailed the first dog with my claws right on his black nose and drew blood. He leaped straight up in the air howling and backed off a couple of paces. Wham! Wham! 2 more dogs were holding their noses and squalling. The least aggressive of the four managed to keep his face intact. My tail was huge and my back was arched, pupils dilated, and claws ready to go back to work. I hissed at them and I meant it. After a while they surrendered and trotted off whimpering, and I made my way up to the swimming pool where there were a couple of people hanging out, Donk, and I think his wife. Apparently they had not witnessed my magnificent self-defense exhibition, and it seemed they may have been a little surprised to see me there, unmolested by their security team.

Donk was talking to someone on the phone. “Dzien dobry, Waclaw”, I heard him say. Then he said “Jak sie masz dzisiaj?” Then he grunted. “Jaki jest koszt za funt pomidorow?” He paused to listen. “Kup teraz sto funtow.” Another pause. “Dobrze jest twoja a redzina?” Another pause. “Pat twoja zona na posladkach dla mnie.” Another pause. “Hahaha. W porzadku. Do Widzenia.” He hung up and scratched himself. He was wearing a polo shirt and shorts, sandals, and a white baseball cap with a Donkle logo on it. He had the same logo on his polo shirt and on his shorts. After a bit he looked up and saw me staring at him. “Well, hello, Sambo,” he said. I may not understand Polish (I DON’T understand Polish), but I know English, and Sambo is definitely a pejorative term as applied to dark-skinned humans. It is also a particularly violent Russian martial art form, but I’m sure he wouldn’t have meant it in that context, even if he had witnessed my  performance a few minutes earlier. No, he was definitely referring to my melanism. As I  referenced in an earlier post (Nevermore, posted 2/5/17) black dogs and cats, not to mention people, have a long and painful history of being feared, reviled, and persecuted by white people in power, and their ignorant minions. So, I don’t take well to a Sambo reference. I would prefer to be treated by people with respect, just as I now expect the same from the white German shepherds I had a brief interaction with a few minutes earlier.

Sambo as a term has had various shades of meaning, especially in the USA, referring to a dark-skinned man of African descent. A Sambo has been thought of as a loyal servant, but with a tendency towards laziness, mostly contented with his existence, but given to poorly thought-out schemes typically landing himself in trouble, either with his white master or with his own wife. (A classic example is “Kingfish” in the old Amos and Andy show.) Unlike Anansi, the trickster of Caribbean mythology, who always gets the upper hand, Sambo winds up in the doghouse looking foolish. The term came into popular usage with the publication of “Little Black Sambo” in 1899 by Helen Bannerman. This story is known to all American children who were born before 1950, and many since. Mike had the book when he was a little boy. In 1950 Little Black Sambo became Little Brave Sambo in response to outcries about the unflattering racial portrayal of Sambo, drawn as he was with exaggerated large lips, nappy hair, and bugged-out eyes. His parents were given the unflattering names of Mama Mumbo and Papa Jumbo, but I can’t remember if they were renamed when Sambo went from Black to Brave. You can look it up if you are interested. By the way, you might be interested to know that Helen Bannerman’s story is situated in India, not Africa.

A new chapter in the Sambo story started in 1957 when a couple of men in Santa Barbara, California opened a restaurant. They combined their own names into Sambo, and covered the walls with jungle-themed pictographs. They franchised their formula until at its height stood at 1117 locations in 47 states. But the bigger they got, the more antagonism they aroused with their insensitively drawn characterizations of African natives. While this cost them some business, it was more mismanagement that led to their bankruptcy and grand collapse in 1982. And so did Sambo’s revert to 1 location, the original store in Santa Barbara, which is still in the family, run by the grandson of one of the founders.

So, don’t call me Sambo. I gave him a fierce glare and walked through the open patio door into the house.

The Extreme Vet

Together forever.
My eye runneth over
Ladybug II enjoying a break after a hard morning’s workout.

So, Mike finally figured out how to get pictures posted on my blog. The top picture shows the twins all curled up around each other, sweet as they can be. On the far left of that picture you can just barely see Ladybug peering up at the camera. A better shot of her is in the bottom frame. Of the 3 pictures currently posted, I want you to notice, most importantly, the picture of me. If Mike knew how to enlarge this you would see more clearly that my left eye is running. I heard Mike say something to Judy, or either it was the other way around, about taking me to the vet. I have made myself scarce ever since. I’m sure time will take care of this little problem. I probably have a little pollen or something in my eye. It is not really bothering me that much. Our neighborhood vet has a bad reputation among the pets here of being extremely anal in his approach to veterinary medical care. And when I say extremely anal, feel free to take that literally. No matter what your problem is that gets you brought there, he’s poking in every orifice looking for God knows what. He and his staff are always poking at you, pushing on things, cutting nails, and they have a lady there who gives baths. The name of his clinic is Happy Meadows Veterinary Medicine Center, but we all just call him the Extreme  Vet. I have heard talk on the news about extreme vetting, and trust me, I know what a problem that can be. Moderation in all things, that’s what I say, unless you are talking about napping.

Possum

So, earlier today I was moseying down the street making my usual rounds. As I got in front of the Greenblatt’s house, the front door flew open and out shot Snowball, the fluffy white cat who lives there. Mrs. Greenblatt was at the front door yelling and shaking her fist and saying something about her floor, and what Snowball shouldn’t be doing on it. About 6 feet out the door and down the steps he stopped short and began grooming himself, letting her and anyone else who might be watching know that he was totally nonplussed about being chased out of the house. Nothing wrong here. After a while he wandered over to me and we hung out for a little while. I asked him what was going on, and he told me that there is a possum in the house. She must’ve wandered in earlier in the day when someone had left the door open. He had left her hiding under the bed in the master bedroom. There are little piles of possum poo in several locations already, and a puddle here and there. Snowball was getting blamed for this. I wished him well and moved along until I got to the Johnson’s place. The sun was shining on their front stoop, one of my favorite places to curl up and enjoy being myself. One of the particularly best aspects of that stoop was the opportunity to torment Pookie, the Johnson’s little white terrier-ish sort of dog who was given to shrill yapping and bouncing whenever I assumed my rightful position in the sunshine. Of course, he was inside with the storm door between us. I always made a point of acting as though I didn’t even know he was there, 3 feet away from me, shrieking in dog, “I’ll kill you, Get off my stoop!, I’ll kill you!” It was such a pleasure, and I thanked God once again, as we cats all do daily, for not having made me a dog. Even though it was February, it was quite a warm day. The birds were going crazy falling in love and making babies, singing their joyful songs. I dozed off, and at some point Pookie had lost interest in me and had wandered off probably to lick himself. Everybody has their little problems, but I could feel a troubled undertone in my world. People seem more angry than they used to. I’m not sure exactly why, but all was not well in Happy Meadows.I wonder if it has something to do with Donk.

In my last post I told you about “Donk” Donkle, that guy who bought the swamp and built this mansion on the last lot in the subdivision by the swamp. He had gotten mad about the grief that the homeowners association had given him when he bought his place, especially the huge archway at the end of the driveway with the word “DONK” in huge letters atop it. After much of a kerfuffle, he had moved the archway to the head of a new driveway on the old swamp property that wasn’t actually part of the subdivision. But he didn’t lose gracefully, and decided that he would run for president of the homeowners association. He told everybody that he wanted to make Happy Meadows great again. He wanted to convert it to a gated community to keep the riffraff out and protect the residents and their property. He also wanted to establish restrictions on only allowing certain real estate agents to transact business in the subdivision. He wanted to hire our own security guards. (When this homeowners thing got cranked up, it made me realize that I had not seen any campaign signs in a long time. Remember, I told you that there was this big fuss about a selection earlier in the winter. Normally I see all kinds of signs and bumper stickers with people supporting candidates. Nothing of the sort this year. There must not have been much interest in the selection until after it was over.) I’m pretty sure that he’ll get his way about being president of the homeowners association, because they usually have to beg somebody to take the job. I don’t think it’s going to have much effect on me and it probably won’t change anybody else’s life very much either. So, he’ll get his way, but it won’t make him happy. Nothing does. I know people like him. No matter how much money and fancy stuff they accumulate, and no matter how much praise they generate, they are never satisfied. All this grandiosity and arrogance is a cover-up for a greater sense of inadequacy. It’s like trying to fill a bottomless pit of need. You can buy a lot of friends but you can’t make anyone love you. Mike said that he’s not going to say anything to anyone but me, but he’s pretty sure that Mr. Donkle doesn’t even live in the subdivision because his house was built where the swamp was. Somebody else might bring it up if they want to challenge his authority on something if there is a controversy. It should be pretty funny.

Donk

So, next week is the annual neighborhood “Ugly Dog” contest in my neighborhood.  No, really. An ugly dog contest. There are not too many rules. In order to enter you have to live in our neighborhood, and you have to be a dog. For the last several years it was won by a little dachshund-chihuahua mix, named Beezer (or bezoar). She is a mess, with her long white coat, brown spots, goofy floppy ears (a spaniel in her background?), and a stubby, crooked tail. It is her silly grin that propelled her to victory, as there was plenty of dog ugliness to compete with. I mean that in the best possible sense. But this year she was defeated by Joker, a new dog in the ‘hood. Joker is a stocky medium sized girl with a shaggy black coat, buggy eyes, ears that are way too small for her head, and a tongue too large for her mouth.  It sticks out to the side, twisted up to the left in a plump, pink, knot.She lives with a family that has four other dogs, all big, white, male German shepherds. Their owner is a big guy who bought the last lot in the subdivision a couple of years ago. Nobody else wanted the lot because it was at the far end of the subdivision, and next to a swamp. But he bought the lot and the swamp, put in a lake and a 3-hole golf course, stocked the lake with bass, and built an oversized white house in the back of the property. In the process he fought with the city, the county, the neighborhood association, and several contractors. There were a total of seventeen lawsuits filed, most of them against him for not paying his assessments and his contractors. He calls himself a businessman, but he seems to me to be more of a rich bully. His name is Dick Donkle. When his father emigrated from Poland to this country his name was not Donkle. He was Zbigniew Bogdonivietsky. When he arrived at Ellis Island he was greeted by Charlie Davis, a customs official who was in a sour mood. It is impossible to know why. Maybe his baby had been throwing up all  night; maybe he had lost his paycheck in a poker game; maybe his wife was getting it on with the milkman. Whatever his situation, he was in no mood for the imperiousness of Zbigniew Bogdonivietsky. He expected the immigrants to be meek, humble, soft-spoken, grateful, and awe-stricken with their first opportunity to meet a real natural-born American, their feet on actual American turf. But not this character. He was impatient, demanding, loud, and full of entitlement. Not that Charlie understood a word of the Polish that he was being assailed with, but the attitude was unmistakably arrogant. This horse’s rear end was acting as though he was more important than Charlie Davis. He picked the wrong guy on the wrong day to carry on like that. So, Zbigniew Bogdonivietsky left Ellis Island that afternoon as Zbigniew Bogdonkey. Once Zbig discovered  the mischief, he went to a Manhattan telephone book, did some research, went to the courthouse, and became Zbig Donkle. Time went on, and he bought a building, sold it, bought 2 more buildings, sold them, bought 4 more buildings, sold them, and well, you get the geometric progression. So  one day he was rich, and took great satisfaction in his presumption that that jerk at Ellis Island was living the same miserable life that he had the day they had met years earlier.

Now, Zbig was fortunate enough to meet a lovely Polish woman in New York, and marry her. Her name was Wanda. They had 3 children, the oldest of whom was Zbig Junior. Junior had gone to school and studied business, so he could do like his daddy did and own a great many buildings. In school he was a little self-conscious about his Polish given name, but he liked the “Z” because it was distinctive, so he called himself Zip. Zip Donkle was undistinguished as a student, but he had a certain charm and made friends easily. Unfortunately (I guess) he had a way of ticking people off, and he unmade friends as easily as he attracted people to him. Well, one day one of his ex-friends referred to him as Unzip, and it stuck. So Zip Donkle had to make an entirely new set of friends, changed his given name to Richard,and took on the nickname “Donk.” Thus did Zbigniew Zip Unzip Donkle become Richard “Donk” Donkle. As Donk, he was immensely pleased with himself. In fact, one of the run-ins he had with the Homeowners Association in our neighborhood had to do with the huge archway he had erected at the end of his driveway with the word “Donk” across the top in enormous lettering. The HOA board tried to make him take down the structure because it violated the covenants. He fought with them in court for a few months until the HOA bank account was down to it’s last few dollars, and then had the monstrosity moved to a new entrance that was part of the drained swamp property, and not in the actual subdivision.

Well, back to Joker and the ugly dog contest. She won last year’s contest easily, but Beezer still garnered a few votes from the sentimental residents who adored her. Donk angrily demanded a recount, even though Joker had won. The results were unchanged, so Donk went home and had a clubhouse built twice the size of the neighborhood clubhouse, with an olympic-sized pool and twelve tennis courts that nobody ever used except for his kids and a few of their rich friends who jetted in from Switzerland or wherever. The animals in the neighborhood all thought this was quite funny. It took very little effort to convince the flocks of grackles and starlings to congregate at the Donk estate daily and crap all over his place, especially on the tasteless archway.  I’ll tell you more about Donk and some of the other characters that live here another time.  It’s a good thing that our Creator gave us a sense of humor. Otherwise I would be insane.

Oh, I have an idea! Why don’t we have our own ugly dog contest. You can send your entries here, and I can post them. My thousands of readers can vote on the dozens of entries.  Maybe we can put the winning doggie on T-shirts for prizes. I would like to put up a picture of Joker, but he is being kept in seclusion, and I would have to get past too many German shepherds to risk it. Sorry.

Nevermore

So, as I was walking home this afternoon from my inspection of the neighborhood, once again I found Nevermore stretched out in the middle of the street, sunning herself. This is not the most intelligent behavior imaginable, even for a dog; but the people who drive down this street know her tendencies. So she has yet to be hit by a car, no thanks to herself. But it got me to thinking about black dogs.  Not everyone is aware that black dogs are euthanized at a much higher rate than lighter-colored dogs, because they seem to be passed over by potential adopters, consciously or unconsciously, because of their blackness.  In the British Isles, in particular, there is an extensive folklore about black ghost dogs that haunt locales, and bring about sickness and death to the people who live in their environs. This mythology was the basis for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story, “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” which featured a monstrously big, vicious, coal black dog. In fact, the color black is heavily represented in folklore and mythology as representing evil, Satan, the devil, and death. In the animal world we make no distinction of value based on color. (Dogs, poor things, can’t even distinguish color, just levels of brightness, and shades of gray.) But people, with their  limited spiritual and moral awareness, seem to make color an issue of significance. You may have read the poem “The Raven”, by Edgar Allen Poe. It is a famous, wonderfully musical poem that deals with the grief of a young man whose girl friend, Lenore, has died. He wants to stop thinking about her, and at the same time  he wants to know if they can be reunited in Heaven. He is visited in the middle of the night by a large black bird, a raven, who comes tap, tap, tapping at his door. He thinks the bird is a prophet that can answer his questions, but all the bird will say is “Nevermore.”  There are strong undertones of mystery, death, and evil in the poem.  It can hardly not be noticed that the bird is black. If the bird was white, green, or blue, it wouldn’t be the same poem. If the name of the poem was  “The Great White Heron”, or “The Black-throated Blue Warbler”,  nobody would ever read it.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that black cats also are passed over at shelters and subject to a higher risk of euthanasia. Black and brown people seem to also be subjected to being discriminated against. For example, many years ago when Michelle was in the 3rd grade she was passed over by her (white) teacher and not recommended to participate in the honors class. She told her (brown) mother who marched down to the school and demanded to know why the teacher didn’t think she was smart enough. Michelle was tested, and got into the class. I am not exactly sure how smart Michelle is, but I do know she is smart enough to be a professor at a major university. Racial and ethnic differences have the potential to make life so interesting, but also lead to discrimination and wickedness, as often people that have power fear that people unlike them will take over or at least take some of what they are trying to hold on to. Competition for limited resources is the basis of all political struggles.

But back to black dogs. I have heard a rumor (I can’t reveal my source) that animal control is considering making all black dogs register. They claim that it is only to help them document the population needs, trends, etc., but on the streets we suspect a more nefarious motive. I have strong feelings about this, not so much because I am crazy about black dogs (or any dogs), but more because it is morally corrupt to stigmatize groups based on such a superficial characteristic (or for any other reason). And if this is allowed, the next thing would be an attempt to register black cats. I am certain there are people who would sleep well at night if all the black cats in the world were exterminated. So, I have decided to speak out. My first step is by writing this piece. I also plan to be first in line to register as a black dog if the program (I almost wrote pogrom) is instituted. Mike told me he will take me down to animal control to register, and I think he will register himself as well. We are not going to take this lying down, in the middle of the street or anywhere else. I invite you to join me.

Longevity

So, I may have said this before, but I’ve come to realize that cats who live indoors outlive their natural lifespan. This is why they develop degenerative diseases like diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and dementia. I think the same thing is true of people. People are living much longer than they used to through a combination of better nutrition, better medical care, and better protection from the elements. Not that I am saying that cats (or people) shouldn’t live longer, but everything has its consequences. In my world we have a whole generation of humans in their 50s, 60s, and 70s trying to care for very elderly parents who are in varying degrees of incapacitation and decrepitude, and who typically are to some degree uncooperative with the whole process. Now, you might think that I have no right to an opinion about how long cats or people should live. While I’m perfectly willing to leave the whole business up to the Universe, the fact is, I do have opinions about this and a lot of other things. If I didn’t have opinions, I wouldn’t be writing a blog.

Mike went to see his mother a few days ago. She is 100 years old and severely demented. This time Mike doesn’t think that she knew he was there visiting with her. He says it’s very sad to see her in this condition, so different from the person that she really was, energetic, gregarious, happy. I don’t know anybody who would like to wind up in this advanced stage of dementia. At least cats have the gift of euthanasia to end the misery. People don’t have this luxury. I don’t know what the answer is.

The weather has been very confusing. For several days it was warm, and the birds were singing. The camellias are in bloom and it looks like a lot of other plants are coming up and getting ready for spring. Today it is cold again. So it’s a confusing time, and as I understand it, in the people world it is a confusing time as well. Things seem to be kind of upside down, as if the chickens put the fox in charge of the henhouse. This can’t be good. But eventually the pendulum will swing back in the other direction and sanity will return. I hope too many people and chickens, to say nothing of cats, don’t get hurt in the process.

I will talk to you again later. Have a blessed day.