Miss Elvira: Bold, Fresh, with Tortitude to Spare!
Miss Sneakers: Playful, Curious, All Tuxie...Texan Born & Bred!
You Giva Us No Trouble, We Giva You No Smack!
Creative writing, experiences, outspoken observations & opinions, on life, & the world around them, taking 1 step at a time on the Journey of Discovery, & Enlightenment, that comes with having 9 Lives to work with.
The context made him and I both laugh; more to the point of this post...it made me think and so when daddy went to fix his dinner I did some googling and then some more thinking until I came up with the following....
You can read about his experience and see photos of the inside and outside of the venue, here.
It goes without saying that Daddy's performance was very well received.
Well, he finally had the chance to make a return and chose to dress up in his paw print suspenders, stick our old "MEOW!Ask Me About the Most Opinionated Pussycats in America" name badge on his shirt and share 3 poems by Nikita!
What he did not expect was who would greet him when he walked in the room...
Miss Negra...resident feline of the venue.
He had not encountered her in either of his visits, last month, and no-one knew he was going to share feline poetry this night, yet there she was approaching him with evident recognition of him being a kindred spirit and with curiosity to meet and welcome him to her home with open paws.
Daddy learned she is about 10 years old and has called this business and its grounds home for almost as long as she has been alive.
She walked comfortably and unafraid, around the room, the clear Queen of All She Surveyed, worshiped by all humans who encountered her.
While she didn't speak to him, with all the humans around, she let him give her a chin scritch and belly rub....
Edward Lear was a cat loving, 19th century, British artist, poet and storyteller (The Owl & the Pussycat, anyone?) who lived the last 15 years of his life with a cat named Foss (survivng his going to Rainbow Bridge by only 4 months)...
While Lear didn't invent the poetic form known as the limerick, he took a shine to its possibilities.
According to the book EDWARD LEAR: The Complete Verse & Other Nonsense edited by Vivian Noakes, "Lear himself never used the word 'limerick'...he called them his 'Nonsenses' or 'Old Persons'." Upon being introduced to the form he realized "that he had discovered 'a form of verse lending itself to limitless variety for Rhymes and Pictures'."
During the first month of the life of this blog, Nikita, the original "Opinionated Pussycat", introduced readers, not just to limericks, but several other short forms ideal for what I am going to call, in honor of Mr. Lear and his beloved feline, Foss...Kitty Nonsense Poetry:
This got me to thinking of a way to express my concern about this issue via my talent for poetry.
Daddy Kiril has been reading a book containing the creative writing of the cat loving, 19th century British, artist, poet and storyteller Edward Lear so, at night, I have been finding time to read the book, too, while daddy sleeps.
In the spring of 1998 there was a mother cat and her newborn kittens in a room at the Pomona Valley Humane Society.
Recently arrived, for some reason they had not yet been assigned a cage of their own so the Mom and her litter were set up in a large box with a blanket.
Part Maine Coon the lady cat, gruff and untrusting of the humans, due no doubt, to years of life on the street in the most dangerous parts of Pomona, kept close watch on her brood, especially once they opened their eyes, began to talk, and became curious about their surroundings.
One night, as she slept, kittens nursing contentedly at her nipples, one of the boys, sated, looked around. Though it was after midnight, there was a light at the other end of the room, above a counter, from which the sound of something going splat could be heard.
There being a ramp from the floor to this counter the curious kitten decided to go exploring.
There was a spot on the second floor of the warehouse parking garage that overlooked a warehouse window; The Texian Tuxedo had pushed a small, but heavy, rock up to the spot, but a simple alarm, from a broken window, would only bring the cops to the warehouse; He had to do something to attract their attention to the house across the street once they showed up.
My escape from the house was a blessing from Ceiling Cat, he said, and now he could set his plan in motion.
It was a clear night, with a beautiful full moon, the kind that drives a cat to find the nearest fence post to straddle, or a high spot with a view and start yowling a romantic ballad, a song of sorrow, challenge, pride, or mischief, either solo, or part of a duet, or chorus line; Contrary to what some may think, such scenes were not something made up by those humans who wrote decades old Hollywood cartoons.
The Texian Tuxedo was in the mood to do more than yowl.
As I positioned myself next to the rock, ready to push at the moment I was told, the Texian Tuxedo went to the walkway leading to the front door of the house and began to yowl; It was such a song of challenge as no cat had ever spoken or heard, in a voice so powerful as to send chills down my back, to the tip of my tail. All the woman knew was there was that damn cat again, making an awful racket and she meant to shut it up so she could go back to sleep.
The woman came outside with her broom and found herself being stared down by her nemesis. The Texian Tuxedo stopped yowling and stood staring as the woman waved her broom, yelling “SCAT!” “SHOO!”
Then he slowly, deliberately, began to stalk toward where she stood hackles and tail raised a look of determination on his face. She backed up to the door, with a look that said he was not to take one step further.
I was so mesmerized by the scene unfolding below me that, when he made his charge and knocked her back into the house, I almost forgot to shove the rock!
The window shattered! The alarm went off!
Meanwhile, from within the house came a great clamor!
Screeching cats, screaming woman, the crash and clang of anything and everything!
It seemed like forever but it was only 5 minutes before the first cop showed up and, by the time I had scampered down to the bushes in the front yard, was calling for back-up, saying he wasn’t about to go inside alone.
Four more cops arrived as the noise continued and they stood looking at each other, at a loss about just what to think.
45 minutes after it began an eerie quiet settled over the house and 3 of the cops cautiously entered the front door while the other called for an ambulance.
The story takes place on a street in Laredo, Texas, in the late, hot, summer of 1998. When the train slowed down, on the edge of town, I leaped off and began looking for signs of other cats, which would lead me to left out food and water, along the way.
A kindly old woman, you know the stereotype, stepped out of an alley, not far from the tracks, gesturing to me with a handful of kibble and a gentle, “here, kitty, kitty…”
I was hungry and tired, letting my guard down and, before I knew it, trapped in a carrier and taken to a nearby, ramshackle, old clapboard house across from a warehouse in a rundown neighborhood. The inside of the house had a beautifully kept living room, but with furnishings straight out of the 1950’s, the same for the kitchen.
The two bedrooms, however, were a disaster, but not in the way of the stereotypical “cat lady’ and it didn’t take me long to realize that half the 20 cats in each room were as crazy as the old woman; the other , more recent, resident felines were just frightened out of 6 of their 9 lives.
Each cat, and the variety of ages and breeds was astounding, had a small cage of its own and there was a huge communal litter box as well as a handful of ‘nip bananas strewn about the very dirty floor.
We were let out only once a day, as a group (each room at a different time), to eat dry kibble, drink water, use the litter box and interact with each other and the toys...for all of 2 hours, never at the same time of day.
The old woman didn’t interact with the cats, other than what was required to let us in and out of our cages, provide food and water and to clean the litter box once a week…and twice on Sunday.
After two weeks in her “tender loving care” I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever escape!
“Riding the blinds” and “riding the rods” were only for the most daring of kitties and, besides myself, I only knew one other who did so and that was the last Texian Tuxedo; but more about him in a bit.
The “blinds” are a semi-enclosed space at the end of each boxcar and the “rods” are brake rods slung under the car, and you could wedge yourself in there; lying on your stomach, front paws stretched in front of you, on a board, you’d be hanging just a foot or two above the blur of the track beneath you.
Riding the rails was not for most cats and a practice not taken up lightly for those who were not of strong body and sturdy constitution and prefer to roam far and wide instead of settling down in a permanent territory alone or in a colony.
Getting on a slow-moving train takes nerve and lots of practice; done as a last resort since, unlike humans who can grab something…well, let’s just say that leaping into an open boxcar on the move takes precision timing to land safely inside; guess wrong and “splat” you’d go against the side of the car, all 9 lives gone in an instant.
Hopping off a moving train is no piece of cake, either.
The sound of the heavy door of a boxcar slamming shut often meant death for cats as cars could be shunted off to a siding in the middle of nowhere, or a big city rail yard where, day by day, you’d slowly become a boxcar skeleton. Luckily, that never happened to me but, hearing the muffled cries of desperate felines, begging for rescue, as I’ve done many times, is the most haunting sound I’ve ever heard.
When I began to ride the rails I saw a lot of illegals, from south of the border, looking for work and doing their best to stay in the shadows: I hear that hasn’t changed and that humans from countries of the Middle East have entered the mix, but I have no first paw knowledge. In the past decade young people with screwed up politics and views of the world, plus the always present runaways, homeless and punks of all stripes, out there on the margins of society, where nobody will look for, or bother them, have remained a mainstay of those riding the rails.
You quickly learned to judge who, among the humans, were cat friendly and might share their food and water, or have some cat food , treats and catnip and let you sit in their lap as their hands massage your back, ears, chin and belly. You also learned to tell who would be more likely to hurt you, toss you off the train for sport or even kill, cook and eat you for dinner.
I’d show my appreciation with lots of purring, head butting and, for particular favorites, I’d find some tasty critter for them to cook and eat or, at a stop, sneak into a market and come out with something I’d bring to their camp or motel room.
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