Elmoo and Elvis

So, with the end of the year it’s always natural to think back on the events of the year and particularly about loved ones who have passed. Mike wanted me to mention, in particular, his mother’s first cousins Robert and Helen. You hear people say all the time that so-and-so is the world’s nicest guy, but I want you to know, that the world’s nicest guy was Robert, and now that he has gone the world is diminished because of it. He lived a long life and brought comfort and joy to many. He was certainly a patient and loving husband and father. He was 98 years old when he passed. If Robert was the world’s nicest guy, then Helen was as kind as a person could be. I think she was my mother’s best friend. Helen was renowned as a manager not only of her own affairs but those of the many other people that she came in contact with, particularly her family members. This is a common characteristic  of the oldest daughter of a large family which she most certainly was. She was 96 years old when she passed. Mike and Judy loved them both very much, and they will be missed.

On the feline side of things, we lost my cousin Elmo this year. Elmo lived with Amy, who was a devoted guardian. Elmo was a black and white cat with patterns like a Holstein cow. In fact, Judy used to refer to Elmo as Elmoo. If you’re not familiar with the Holstein by name, you have most certainly seen the Holsteins in fast food commercials urging you to eat more chicken, dreadfully spelled in a manner that is supposed to reflect the lack of education of said Holsteins. This is supposed to be amusing. I think it was amusing at first when the ad campaign started many years ago in 1995, but they have certainly milked it for everything it’s worth.

We can’t be the only family that has lost loved ones in the past year. One of the hardest things in life is letting go of people and pets that we love. We also know that the holidays always bring back memories of loved ones we have lost in previous years, sometimes many years ago. Today, for example, is Elvis Presley’s birthday. He was born on January 8, 1935. Most people don’t know that he had a twin who was stillborn. After becoming one of the most important cultural icons of the 20th Century, his life degenerated into overindulgence of various sorts, especially prescription drug use.  He died in 1977 at the age of 42.  Success and fame overwhelmed him, sad to say. Thankfully, there is no chance of anything like that happening to anyone in our little family.

Today is also the 40th anniversary of Mike’s marriage to Gena, Michelle’s mother. He is in a reflective mood, but seems happy with his life. Gena died in 1977, the same year as Elvis. She had cancer, and actually died of complications of chemotherapy. That hurt Mike terribly, but life goes on, and the Universe provides us with the capacity to heal from our wounds. Judy and Mike have been happily married since 1995. Judy has had the unique capacity to know that Mike is fully involved in his love for her, without needing for his love for Gena to be diminished in any way. We have been most blessed as a family, Michelle included.

It is very cold outside today. We had an ice storm a couple of days ago, and there are still patches of ice on the sidewalks and streets. I don’t know what it is like where you live, but if it is anything like what we have here in Marietta, I advise you to stay indoors and be safe if you are able to do so.

We hope that all of our readers experience nothing but joy in 2017. And if you are sad, we pray for your speedy healing and restoration.

 

Fleas and the Meaning of Life

So, the holidays are over, although there is an extra day this year because Christmas and New Year’s Day came on Sunday. So, Monday is also taken as a holiday. Not that it makes any difference to a cat like me, except that Mike has been home more because he has had another four-day weekend. It has been very wet outside the last few days. I have been getting soaked just walking across the grass. So I just got back home and gave myself a good washing. At least I don’t have to worry about fleas. I get some medicine every once in a while that protects me from the little buggers. My mother used to say that fleas are one of God’s mistakes. They are incredibly vexing at best and they spread serious disease as well. But of course, God has really not made any mistakes. The universe is created in such a way that every environment invites life. So if there is a niche, living things fill it, and not only that, but they compete with each other for the space. Things will live where one would never imagine that anything could survive. From the bottom of the ocean to coldest environment at the tallest mountain tops, there are things that live. Or so I am told. I hear a lot of speculation about whether there are other worlds where life exists now or whether it has existed in the past. Humans are working their way towards an expedition to Mars. There is probably nothing alive there now, but I would be surprised if there hasn’t been life on Mars in the past. There must be millions of places in the universe where life has existed, does exist, or will exist. It is only either people’s arrogance or lack of imagination that leads them to believe that this planet of ours is the only one where life can be found. This is the same sort of arrogance and lack of imagination that leads people to believe that they are the highest life form on earth. What doubt could there be that cats are the most advanced of all God’s creatures, at least spiritually? But I digress. Holidays are always a lot of fun. Some of Judy’s family came to the house, and it was nice to see them. We exchanged presents, and there’s always something for the cats. The best presents are yummy cat treats, but the little toys are fun to play with as well. And it is always a pleasure to be admired.

Our neighbor at the end of the block has just walked by, walking his cat, Pinky. When I say he walks his cat, I mean that he walks, and he carries the cat. This is rather amusing, don’t you think? Some of the  neighborhood cats think that Pinky is aloof because she never lets her paws touch the ground. But I believe she is not so much aloof as aloft. I think  it is part of her guardian’s strategy to keep her from getting the above-mentioned fleas. Most cats would never allow themselves to be carried around like a loaf of bread, but she seems to tolerate the experience, if not enjoy it. It is funny how different we cats can be in our personalities, and retain such commonalities at the same time. By the way, some people object to the use of the word personality referring to cats, because cats are not people. But the word is not people-ality, it’s personality. I think every living thing that has a sense of itself can be thought of as having its own personality, and humans can just get over it. People think that just because it appears to them that they are the only truly sentient beings this makes them special. They think that they’re the only beings that think about the fact that they think about themselves, who they are, where they came from, and what it all means. I think the people who achieve the greatest enlightenment are the ones who are the most like cats. Watch a cat meditate sometime, and you’ll get an idea of what I mean. It is only in any given present moment that one can be in direct contact with the universe, and by extension, with the Master of the universe. Think about it, and enjoy the moment.

‘Tis the season

So, today is the day after Christmas, or the 2nd day of Christmas, depending on your tradition. Or it’s boxing day. Or it’s the 2nd day of Chanukkah. (My spell check just got mad when I took the 2nd “k” out of Chanukkah, so I put it back in.) And it is also the first day of Kwanzaa. So, today is kind of a big deal in the world of festivals in different cultures and religions. We are now also 5 days past the winter solstice, which is still honored by pagans, but generally a bigger deal for cats than people. Cats are more tuned into the natural universe than people, and so to the extent that we mark time, we do so by natural lunar and solar cycles. But for cats, when you get right down to it, the most important time is always the current moment.

Anyway, this is the first year that we haven’t had a Christmas tree. I think it’s because those men came and stole our carpet and threw the house into an uproar. You can read about this in my  most recent post, if you are interested. Michelle suggested that we get a rosemary Christmas tree so Judy did go out and get one, and she put a few lights and  cat toys on it. When it first came into the house it was so aromatic that I had to leave the room, but it’s better now, and I’m getting used to it. Judy says that when spring comes she will plant it  outside. This certainly isn’t the same as a real tree with all the cat toys hanging from it. A couple of years ago we also had a lot of goings on before Christmas, and kind of at the last minute Mike and Judy went to the Christmas tree lot and discovered that it was virtually picked clean. They still had 4 trees that were at least 10 feet tall. Mike asked the clerk what they would charge him for the top 6 feet of one of those big trees, and he got it for $35. So that worked out great, and the tree was lovely. I have always enjoyed having a tree. Tiger used to be bad about drinking the water at the base of the tree. He would get a little disoriented afterwords from the pine resin in the water, but he kept doing it anyway. I would take a little taste, but I know when to quit.

So, Judy always does a lot of holiday cooking. Specialties include coffee cake on Christmas morning, cranberry Jell-O salad, and a special holiday soup that she makes with chicken and split peas. Mike, Judy, and Michelle exchanged presents yesterday morning. They had a lot of fun, and all of them were pleasantly surprised by some of the presents. Mike’s favorite was a hooded sweatshirt celebrating the Chicago Cubs winning of the World Series this year.  (Mike has always said that there were 3 things  that he thought would never happen in his lifetime, and 2 of them have already happened. One, of course, was the Cubs winning the World Series. He has been a Cubs fan since he moved to Chicago as a 7 year old in 1950. His older brother was a White Sox fan, so naturally Mike pulled for the Cubbies. Another thing he thought would never happen was getting a hole-in-one, but he did so a few years ago when he was playing with his friends Don and Wally up at Lake Lanier. The hole was 176 yards and he did it with a 7 wood. There is a 3rd thing that he has said will probably never happen in his lifetime, but I can’t remember what it is now. Sorry.) Judy also got him the book, “Blogging for Dummies”. This could prove to be very helpful as Mike assists me with my blog, because quite frankly, he doesn’t really seem to know much about what he is doing right now. Happily, he has started to read it already, so this can only be good for me. You know, this reminds me that recently there has been a big kerfuffle about something that happened last month called a selection. It has generated a lot of emotions and millions of words, but the only real question when all is said and done can only be,” Is it good for the cats?”

The Stolen Carpet/Eating Out

So, I think it’s  about a week since I’ve posted anything. Please forgive my laxity. Not to make an excuse, which of course this is, but things have been pretty crazy around here. Remember when I told you that there was a big pile of lumber in the living room? Well a few days ago, the other 3 cats and I got trapped in the family room for 2 entire days and nights. Luckily, we had a litter box in there along with food and water. We heard voices of strange men and there was pounding, pounding, and more pounding, as well as loud music on a radio. This went on seemingly forever. I think these men must’ve held Mike and Judy prisoner, because when we finally got let out, I discovered that all the carpeting in the house had been stolen. I mean it was slap gone. The pile of lumber in the living room was gone as well. For the past few days Mike and Judy have been moving furniture until things are starting to resume their former positions in the house. We now have a slick floor which I guess was underneath the carpet, but that doesn’t quite make sense either. It has been very dusty in here and Mike and Judy have been vacuuming like banshees. Let me tell you, it was a pleasure to get outside again. I don’t know what was worse, being trapped in the same room with the other cats for 2 days, or not being able to be outside. I enjoy the house, and I know some cats adapt perfectly to an exclusively indoor existence, but face it, it’s not natural. Cats did not evolve in people’s interior spaces.

I have noticed that people don’t like to stay inside all the time either. For example, people like to eat out. They like to go where they can try different kinds of foods and enjoy the ambience and sociability of a restaurant meal. They also like to take a break from meal preparation once in a while; and take a break from the clean-up afterwards.  I like to eat out myself, as I have discussed before. Mike and Judy had a less than delightful dining experience at a restaurant the other night. For starters, the waitress was wearing so much perfume that Mike’s throat wanted to close up whenever she got within 2 or 3 paces of their table. The people sitting a couple of tables behind Mike, in full view of Judy, must have had the same reaction to her, because the little girl got sick right there at the table. So her daddy took her outside and the mommy took her baby and packed up all the food and left. And then people came by with mops and cloths and what not. So, nobody enjoyed that too much. Judy wasn’t that happy with her meal and didn’t finish it. Mike was cold in the restaurant and kept his coat and hat on throughout the entire meal; and he managed to drag his coat sleeve through his spaghetti sauce like a 4-year-old. So he wiped off as much sauce as he could and then when they got home Judy threw his coat into the washing machine. It probably needed washing anyway. So, it could have been a better experience. They might try a different restaurant next time, or even stay home. In fact, Judy has been doing a lot of cooking very recently. Yesterday was Christmas here, so I will talk more about the holiday in my next post. I do hope you all had a lovely Christmas, or Chanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or whatever.

The other cats

So, I said I would tell you about the other cats that live here. We have the twins, Jackson and Shayna Maidel, and our newest addition, albeit probably 5 years ago, Ladybug II. All 3 of them came from the same place that Judy got me from, Good Mews. Good Mews is a no-kill, no-cage shelter in Marietta where Judy has been volunteering for  about 15 years. Good Mews is a great place, and the people who take care of the cats there are wonderful. I have a link to the Good Mews website at my Georgia cat website, so if you go there you can read all about it. Just go to www.georgiacat.com. Not that I’m promoting my website or anything. So Judy goes over there on Tuesdays and mops floors and scoops poop. She also socializes some of the shy cats. Mike and Judy found themselves a couple of cats short just about the time the twins showed up at Good Mews. They are brown tabbies with white paws and white fronts. I will show you pictures when I figure out how to put them up. They have been together since they were in utero, and can’t imagine the other not being there. They love each other a lot…..sometimes a little too much, but I don’t want to talk about that. Shayna is very pretty. She is a small cat with a lovely smile. Jackson is a small male. Sometimes when Mike is sitting in his chair Jackson likes to jump up on his lap and be Mr. Fuzzy Butt in his face as he makes biscuits on Mike’s tummy. Mike holds his tail down and tries to peer around him as he’s watching the television. When Mike and Judy sleep, Jackson sleeps on Judy and Shayna sleeps on Mike. Shayna tends to get restless sometime between 2 and 4 AM so Mike induces her to leave the bedroom and shuts the door so he can get the  remainder of his beauty rest. Ladybug will only get up on the bed and crawl up on Mike or Judy if the twins are out of the room and she is there by herself. Ladybug is a tricolored tabby cat. She’s dark with some orange-red highlights. She has very round eyes. She is built more solidly than the twins, but I wouldn’t say that she is zaftig, just stocky. She is very private in her habits. In the 5 or so years she has been here no one has seen her drink water or use the litter box more than a couple of times. It’s like I said before, there is not much to tell about the other cats that live here. If I think of anything else I might tell you later. And of course, if we have adventures together I will tell you all about them as they occur.

One thing I can tell you about the other cats that live here, is that they have all been tutored. I myself was also tutored when I was at Good Mews. I was about 8 months old when I was brought to the shelter, and by that time I had been starting to feel very frisky, if you know what I mean. My urine had developed a rather powerful aroma which I used to make my presence known. It said “Black Magic has been here.” I was drawn to females and started to make kittens. But at Good Mews one day, the vet tech picked me up and carried me into a special room and told me that I was going to be tutored. I don’t remember too much about the tutoring, because I fell asleep. When I woke up I was kind of hung over and sore down there in my privates. I have never felt quite the same since about making kittens, and my aroma is not quite as pungent either. If anybody ever suggests that you be tutored, I would advise against it.

The nap

So, Mike was sleepy after lunch today and he decided to take a nap. This doesn’t happen very often. He has had a long week. He usually works Monday through Thursday and goes out to some kind of a meeting on Tuesday nights. So that is his late night. The other nights he is on the computer working on his dictation from work. And I suppose he does other things as well, also on the computer. But this week he also was out on Wednesday night at some kind of a Suboxone meeting. This is a whole other topic which I find kind of interesting that I will probably have more to say about another time. Then Thursday night he was out again for some kind of other meeting where he was asked to be some sort of a discussion leader. Then, Friday he went in to work at the office. So he’s way behind in his dictation, but he got up early this morning and worked on it until he went to meet with Pastor Larry, an old friend of his. Pastor Larry is the minister at a small church in Marietta that was founded by former slaves way over 100 years ago. In fact, it was Pastor Larry who ministered to Mike and the family when his late wife, Penny, was in intensive care for all those weeks before she died almost 25 years ago.

So, after some errands and lunch Mike decided to take a nap. He went upstairs and got in the bed where Ladybug, Jackson, and Shayna Maidel were already sacked out. The 3 of them volunteered to be Mike’s nap coaches. I wandered in and out of the bedroom but I didn’t participate in the activities. First, Shayna Maidel dove under the sheet. Jackson was intrigued by the cat shaped lump under the sheet and attacked it. So there was much fast twitch activity from the 2 of them. Then they  would race out of the room, one of them or the other chasing and the other fleeing, and then race back in and do it all over again. Just about the time that Mike figured he would not get any sleep at all, Shayna Maidel climbed up on him and went to sleep, which is what a nap coach is supposed to do in the first place. So Mike drifted off, only to hear moments later the scratch scratch scratching of Ladybug in the litter box on the other side of the bedroom. Ladybug must have known Mike was asleep, because in the 5 or so years that she has lived with Mike and Judy, neither one of them has ever seen her in the litter box. And yet, not one of the 3 cats has ever done their business outside of the litter box. It goes without saying, that when I am indoors I use the boxes as well, exclusively. But I don’t mind spreading the wealth around outside either. Anyway, Mike heard the scratch scratch scratching and opened his eyes. Shayna was sleeping on top of him, and  Jackson was sitting by the bathroom door, the tip of his tail moving back and forth as he was trying to decide what to do next. Ladybug did a good job of burying her business, but an unmistakable order wafted through the bedroom, helping Mike decide that it was time to get up. So he went and scooped the mess out of the box and disposed of it in the toilet as is his custom.

I don’t suppose any of this is really that interesting, but I can’t be profound all the time. If you want consistently profound, I’m not your black cat. I can tell you that there are strange things going on in the house. For one thing, Mike and Judy have been rearranging things upstairs and caring a lot of unnecessary items down to the garage or the basement. The guest bathtub is piled several feet high with bed linens and other stuff. When I say unnecessary items, of course I’m referring to items that a cat would have no use for. Well, about a week and a half ago a truck came by and left a big pile of cartons in the driveway and drove off. Later in the afternoon a man and a woman came by and carried all these boxes into the house and left them in the living room. There is a regular fort in there now that smells like fresh lumber. I can’t imagine what the point of all this is. I had a chance to observe  these events from the front yard, but the other cats were locked up in the family room so they wouldn’t run out of the house with the front door standing wide open. They would be helpless outside.

Oh, Mike just came in. He wants to get back on the computer and finish his work dictation for the week. So, I’ll talk to all of you later.

The hawk.

So, you know how sometimes things seem to be so difficult. You get discouraged and kind of give up hope. In order for cats to get like this we would have to be really hungry, cold, or sick. But people are more susceptible to emotional turmoil. We cats are more in the moment, and we are also much more spiritually connected than people seem to be. People tend to worry on the one hand or be regretful on the other. So they obsess about the future or the past, and often miss their opportunity to enjoy and to be in the present moment. Mike had gotten like this not long ago. He was even restless in the night, scratching his nose, tossing and turning, and being a general disturbance to my rest. To be truthful, there were strange signs. The moon a few nights ago was bigger and brighter than I’ve ever seen. I could smell fire in the air. It hadn’t rained for over 2 months, and all the animals were coming out where you never see them. I had to be more watchful than ever for coyotes when I was making my nocturnal rounds. The other cats in the house had not noticed much of anything different, but they are so self-absorbed that they wouldn’t. Also, they never go outside. Mike doesn’t trust them to be able to take care of themselves, and rightfully so, I’m sure. But for cats, they are good company when I’m in the house. Like most cats, I really prefer my own company, but there are times when other cats are somewhat more than tolerable. I like my humans very much, and several nights a week I bring them little presents. Not that they appreciate my efforts, but a good rule in life is you should never do something because you expect it to be appreciated by anyone else. You just do it because it’s the right thing to do, or just because you are who you are.

So, Mike seemed angry about something although I couldn’t say what it was. He was having a hard time with acceptance. I heard him tell Judy that he didn’t know how to accept the unacceptable. But I saw him working on it and trying to pray about it and let go of whatever it was. If he hadn’t done this work, I don’t think that the Universe would have sent him a sign. Or if the Universe had sent him the sign, he would not have either noticed it or recognized it as a sign. The other day I saw him coming down the street in his little hamster-mobile. As he turned into the driveway a big red-tailed hawk flew from behind right over his car, over his windshield, and landed in the Japanese magnolia right next to the driveway. Mike stopped his car about halfway up the driveway and looked at the bird through the passenger-side window that he had opened. The  hawk turned and looked at him for the longest time. For me, the moment was clearly less spiritual than it was for Mike. I had hidden myself beneath a boxwood hedge, and although he was no more than 15 feet away from me, he did not notice me. The hawk is not my friend. After  several minutes he flew into the next yard and sat there for the longest time with his back to us paying us no mind whatsoever. The hawk symbolizes power and vision. It’s strong talons and beak can rip apart its prey quickly and easily. It can see at a great distance. People with the hawk spirit are intuitive and visionary. They know their own power and are courageous. Red-tailed hawks tend to mate for life, and the males participate in the care of young. So they also symbolize family and loyalty. I heard Mike tell Judy that seeing the hawk helped him a lot with his attitude. He was going to turn his anger and disappointment into action. So I guess Mike is ready to stop wrestling with his problem and move on to the solution, whatever it might be. Who knows? He might even decide to start writing again. As for me, I’m more than content with my cat spirit, as we cats are the most favored and wise of all God’s creatures. And as far as I’m concerned, the red-tailed hawk can stay far away from here from now on, Mike or no Mike.

So, I suppose I should introduce myself a little more.

So, I suppose I should introduce myself a little more. I am called Black Magic by my guardians. I’m known on the outside by my inner cat name which doesn’t translate well into English, so I won’t try. But I am well known in my little neighborhood community. I live with Mike and Judy and their 3 other cats. I have special status among the cats for many reasons, chief among them is that I am who I am. But the most obvious difference, other than my genealogy, is that I’m the only one that gets to go out-of-doors. Strangely enough, the other 3 cats have never even tried to go out. I’ll tell you more about them later although there is little to tell. My grandfather, Black Jack, was a very well-regarded and famous cat. You may have heard of him, because he had the gift that he passed on to me of facility with human language, and he wrote his autobiography. He lived with a fellow named Archie for many years, and then with Archie’s nephew Lenny and his family when Archie got too old and sick to take care of a cat. You can check out Black Jack’s autobiography if you’re interested, but I’m not necessarily recommending that you do so. Franz Liszt was once asked if he was going to write his autobiography, and he said that it was enough to have lived his life, he didn’t have to write about it as well. But writing is a compulsion with some people, and apparently, also, with some cats. I don’t think a dog would ever have to worry about writing an autobiography. A dog wouldn’t know where to start, but I have to admit that what they lack in smarts they make up in loyalty.

So, Black Jack was my grandfather and he used to hang out with Grits, my grandmother. My mother was Black Angel. I have no clue who my father was; more about that another time. Black Angel was a great mom. She didn’t exactly live with anybody, but pretty much ran the streets. She had great survival skills and lived a long time for a strictly outdoor cat. She never picked up human language. She really had no use for it, and I don’t think she had the gift anyway. I always knew I was a little on the different side because I always understood what people were saying to each other. Mom told me about my grandfather. Of course, I heard a lot about him from the other cats in the area as well. When I was about 8 months old I wandered quite far away from my neighborhood and was picked up and brought to a cat shelter. That was an experience I wouldn’t care to repeat. Other cats are okay, but I need my solitude. Luckily, Judy was volunteering at the shelter. She recognized what a handsome and all around marvelous cat I am, and she brought me home to live with her and Mike. And as I said, with the other 3 cats who, as I also said, I’ll tell you what little there is to know about them later.

I get in and out of the house through a cat door. I wear a clever little device around my neck that sends a radio signal to the door to unlock and open it so I can get through. This keeps the other 3 cats in and the neighborhood cats and raccoons out. There is an abundance of squirrels, chipmunks, mice, and other little critters to maintain my interest and keep up my skills. I get fed pretty well in the house, so sometimes I just bring my little trophies home as a present for Mike and Judy. They seem to prefer it if I leave the presents outside, although when I bring them in the other cats get to play with them. They’re particularly interesting to play with if they’re still alive and moving around. The other cats think I’m some kind of a God. Indoors, my specialty is sleeping. I know I sleep over half my life away. But sleep is a gift from the Universe, and it is wonderful. My dreams carry me to marvelous places, sometimes.  I will probably tell you about some of this from time to time. But now, it’s time for a nap.

So, let’s get started.

So, for quite some time I have considered putting my unique skills to use. My grandfather, Black Jack, was the first we know of who had human language skills, and he put them to good use. At the time he was living with Lenny Solomon and trapped in the house. For many years he had been an indoor-outdoor cat. With the freedom to explore the outside world, he was never at a loss for interesting things to do. However, when his guardian, Archie, became too ill to take care of him, he went to live with Lenny and his family. He spent many hours entering his life story and his thoughts on Lenny’s computer. Neither Lenny nor the rest of his family knew anything about this until after Black Jack had already gone on to the next world. There was quite a stir when Lenny found the file. It was eventually published as the Autobiography of a Georgia Cat, but not surprisingly, practically nobody has read it.

I think it would be fun for me to write my ideas down as they come to me and as I go through my own life as an indoor-outdoor cat in Marietta, Georgia. In order to benefit the rest of the English-speaking world, I have decided to publish a blog. In a way, I don’t care if anybody reads it or not. As a cat, I am entirely satisfied with myself already. But as I said, I think it will be fun. To some extent I am going to need Mike’s help with this whole process. But he promised that he would publish my words without any alteration or editorial content of his own. We will see if he keeps his word about this. One thing I am somewhat curious about is whether there are other cat bloggers out there who might write comments about my blogging. We shall see. So I think I’m ready to start. But first, I think I will take a nap.