Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"No parsnips whatsoever": now with an encouraging update!

Yes, it IS a repost, originally published on 10/2/2013.  It was a time of governmental crisis, if that helps you thumb through your mental calendar.  I drag this post's silliness back into the light due to the reconvening of Congress tomorrow, and the feeling that reunion has provoked in the pit of my stomach since, roughly, November of 2008.

This time around, though, I'm borrowing the strategy of Organizing for [cough::cough] ACTION and promoting this pertinent, uplifting, and helpful video:

We now return you to the original post of 10/2/2013...


I feel, and I feel strongly, that when faced with such crises as a government shutdown and the likelihood of the US of America defaulting on its debts by not raising, pro forma, the debt ceiling, that stories about cats, food, and the state of the weather are what is called for.

Not that I couldn't join the thousands, millions, more likely, of bloggers who are writing of hostage-taking, perverse manipulation, and the apparent ignorance of the basic process of how laws are passed and changed in this purportedly representative government model.

I am reminded of the stupidity that this country's freedom fighters, back in the eighteenth century, noted on the part of their enemy, the British Redcoats.

First, they wore bright red.
Second, they stood in straight lines, in the open, as it was felt a good British Redcoat should.

And that was how our ragged, dirty troops slipped behind trees and into ditches and picked the suckers off, one by one.

I was sort of hoping that the Democrats and the many, many reasonable Republicans would remember that former stupidity, that adherence to what did not make sense and that led to many young, innocent Brits dying in a ridiculous manner... and that they'd start fighting smart, in a way that might actually preserve lives, that might allow for the passage of a Clean Resolution, with no George III-type addenda, and then move on to raise the debt ceiling because, everyone knows, the debt ceiling must be raised.

This blog either turns now to cats, recipes, health updates (You should see my right leg!  It's a HOOT!) or you and I can weep together over the likelihood of my investments (READ: all I have in the world) circling the drain and being sucked into the vortex of idiocy that defines, at this point, everyone in government from the President (still one of my heroes) to Harry Reid to John "Cry Me A River" Boehner to my congressmen and senators.

We will begin with cats.

Marlinspike Hall cats are, by virtue of living in Marlinspike Hall, spoiled rotten.  They receive attention equal to that offered Queen Elizabeth's weirdo Welsh corgis.  I'm sorry, but those strange little dogs belong on poofy pillows and shouldn't be passed off as "herding dogs." What do they herd, stunted rats?  My very rapid perusal of expert opinions on these bizarro-looking canines explain that their miniature legs serve to allow them to "nip" at the heels of livestock.  Okay.  I was expecting something about digging tunnels and "nipping" at the hind legs of the aforementioned rats.  Or mouses.  Meeces.  Mice.

Um, cats.  Right.  I was distracted by the leader of the Republican Party, Rancid Prepubescence, announcing that the RNC was going to pay to keep the WWII memorial open since President Obama shut down the country.  I don't believe that Fred would slip me LSD in my Diet Ginger Ale but these days, whom can one really trust?

You have got to be freaking kidding me?  Bachmann rejoices that the country has been shut down -- literally says that this is what she wanted to happen -- but then arranges herself as a rescuing first responder for a group of elderly veterans who were about to suffer the indignity of her own actions?  I think there is some mental disorder, a personality disorder, that covers this kind of behavior but the label escapes me.  And I've too many labels already handy for Michele Bachmann.  Her label directory is full and the DSM-IV points her to falling under the aegis of BOTH Cluster A and Cluster B in the Axis II Personality Disorder section.  I ain't qualified.

But you know what is coming on the telly?  The 1967 version of Doctor Dolittle, with Rex Harrison! Perfect timing, for you may have noticed I'm having trouble sticking with my resolution to ignore the nutcakes, the wigged-out -- our leaders.  Give me a good honest Pushmi-pullyu any day.

Interesting that Doctor Dolittle came out the same year as The Graduate, In Cold Blood, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night.  Hey, all I said was "interesting." No other commentary.

I actually have never seen the whole movie -- I tried because I was an enormous fan of Hugh Lofting's books.  My thanks, once again, to my stepmom for her guidance toward childhood classics that I surely would never have read without her placing them neatly in my lazy ambulating way.  She did the same with Jane Eyre, Harriet the Spy, Little Women, Little Men, and all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.  And The Little Prince.  Of course, she also cut pages out of a book I wanted, fearing for my young innocence.  The dangerous book?  The Making of a Surgeon! How do you thank someone for such gifts?

Speaking of Mother-Units, the biological Mom is hopefully having a turn of luck, thanks, as is usually the case, to a group of good people.  Enough said, except... again, how do you thank someone for such gifts?

Okay, cats.  Ahem.

1.  Buddy the Outrageously Large Maine Coon:  forever a kitten.  We continue with the Wire Wars.  After nearly destroying our Xfinity connectivity with his love for a good wire chew, I wrapped the area he was accessing with bubble wrap, studded with little pieces of gauze drenched in Witch Hazel, for which he has great antipathy.  To avoid spending more money on earbuds chewed into little pieces, I took the last pair and encased it in electrical tape -- not thinking, of course, of what a strange impression this would make should I want to listen to music in a public place.  Well, this has worked well for the last three weeks.  Last night, I was tuckered out, set my mp3 player to its usual 90-minute sleep mode, and floated away to my darling Nina Simone.  Somehow, someway, I slept a good, long time, but in the process removed the earbuds and tossed them aside among piles of pillows and bits of quilt (Dobby eats textiles, and has chewed my quilts with great joy... and I often get to extract quilt stitching from deep within his bubbly belly).  Upon waking, of course, Buddy had chewed through the small area that was not wrapped against his sharp teeth.  I fussed and yelled at him, and he looked at me, pleased, clearly hearing "Congratulations, Buddy, Good Boy!" instead of "%(&$##))*&@!"  And then he demanded breakfast.

2.  Dobby, the used-to-be Runt, the Forever Number Two:  Let me clear up a concern I may have caused. I keep the quilts trimmed of loose threads, but he's a devil with those tiny claws.  Dobby is watching Doctor Dolittle intently, at the moment.  Or maybe he is fascinated with Polynesia, the parrot.  No, he's enthralled with the horses and cows, too.  Dobby remains the Peacekeeper of the Manor.  Today, he broke up a near fight between Marmy Fluffy Butt, his mother, and the aforementioned Buddy.  Buddy is huge, tough, and pretty darned strong and quick.  Marmy is tiny, tough, and quicker.  Her strength lies in her perfect technique, not in musculature.  Anyway, back to Dobby.  He also was shut up in the closet again today, a frequent happening.  He doesn't cry, or scratch, or do anything to let you know he's been trapped.  He just curls up and naps, secure in the knowledge that we're not so dumb that we won't figure it out at some point. He clearly has no clue as to how many closets there are in Marlinspike Hall.  Luckily, we know which ones attract him to begin with.  Any closet with fine, museum-quality linens.  Any closet with delicate knits that attract cat hair like nobody's business.  But mostly, Dobby chooses closets that contain my freshly laundered clothing.  Nothing expensive in there, nothing in the least historically significant.  However, they make the perfect spot for shedding, and if one has been ill-behaved in some way, for hiding.  Unfortunately, in Dobby, stress of any sort causes him to denude his small body of all hair... so when I put on clean clothes, I have to put the lint roller to immediate use.  Bless his little bones, Dobby keeps me sane.  He demands what he wants when he wants it, will put up a determined little fight for it, but if he cannot have it just then, will love you anyway.  His clue that it is time to be groomed (his obsession) is my morning keg of coffee.  My notion of what to do, after the careful brewing of my keg of coffee, is to drink it, at leisure, while perusing the latest news about... well, let's not get trapped into talking of the news again!  But to Dobby, it signals the true beginning of the day, and that means the taking care of him.  He has his own (cheap, purple, and plastic) comb and brush set and proceeds to remind me of its existence by knocking them to the floor.  Then he apologizes.  And gets his brushing (the comb is but a pawn in his game), including a finalizing, invigorating belly rub.  Everyone should have a Dobby.  On his inner right thigh, in the tiniest of Cyrillic print, almost invisible, really:  "Dobby: 90% angel, 10% house elf."

3. Marmy Fluffy Butt.  Also known as "my girl." I've told her story many times, but once more won't hurt anyone.  She and her brother, who we also took in but who had suffered so much, he did not make it, were feral street cats.  Somewhere in their short pasts, for they were only 8 months, according to the vet's estimate, they had been indoor pets but were abandoned.  She was, as the Bible might say, sorely pregnant. As tiny then as she remains now, her belly barely cleared the ground.  And she trusted no one.  She fought for every scrap of food, long after the need for fighting was gone.  She tolerated us, and when her "time" to be delivered arrived, she seemed glad enough to have us around.  Fred, especially.  Fred is a wonder with children and with animals.  None of that silly adult pushing, that obnoxious adult knowing-better-than-anyone-else nonsense.  He greets child and animal and then follows suit.  If ignored, he good-naturedly pulls away.  If tolerated, he'll sit nearby with a good book.  If encouraged, he'll offer some sort of smile and a treat.  I kind of push things a bit, not understanding why my love and best intentions don't make child or animal my best friend on an immediate basis.  Go figure.  Anyway, Marmy was not the most maternal of mothers.  "Resentful" might be an appropriate adjective.  Plus, she decided she was done with this "giving birth" nonsense after she had produced four beautiful kittens.  Unfortunately, there was one more -- Dobby
-- waiting in the... wings.  So Fred stepped in and delivered him, deftly, beautifully.  It was touch and go, and then we were in fear that Dobby was a bit touched in the head from lack of oxygen, for he did things like climb to Marmy's head instead of seeking out her life-giving milk.  In fact, all the creature seemed to do for weeks was climb.  Very happy to be at the highest available peak, he didn't seem to notice hunger or thirst, warmth or cold.  Well, obviously, he survived.  Marmy remained feral for almost two more years, terrorized and terrorizing.  Then, for no reason we've ever discovered, she decided we were fine, and became a love bunny.  She's flipped back and forth several times, again, for reasons we cannot divine.  Except for one instance -- after a vet visit that resulted in a tooth-pulling and an overnight stay.  She gave us the silent treatment for a good three months after that.  When she does choose to show affection, she's unbeatable. She nuggles close, she butts her head against a spare hand, and she tells you of her woes in her best "*ack*-*ack*" tones, and bewitches you with her beautiful eyes.  It is best not to be offended when, for no discernible reason, she huffs and puffs and swirls her tremendously fluffy tail end in your face, and stalks off.
Today, I was blessed with having Marmy show up "*ack*-*ack*"ing for a good brushing.  She must have heard about the goings on in Washington.

Oh, no!  They are throwing Dr. Dolittle into an asylum.  You know who needs to be in an asylum, don't you? Those animals in D.C.!

I tried.  I would keep trying, and regale you with stories of the dinner I concocted tonight, except that I didn't concoct a darned thing.  Two Nathan's hot dogs on whole wheat bread, with yellow mustard.  My legs are hurting, my shoulders blah blah blah blah blah.  And blah!

Hooray... the monkey stole the keys to the carriage, the horses took off without the guards and drivers, and the bloodhounds refused to hunt, the Doctor is saved!  And now everyone has set sail to the North Pole... which Dr. Dolittle carefully points out "has not been discovered yet," so they're keeping that bit of knowledge to themselves.  Actually, they're looking for the giant pink Sea Snail but don't know where it is.

This is altogether too realistic for my taste, suddenly.

Have a good night, everyone.  And thank you, Hugh Lofton!

"Then Jip went up to the front of the ship and smelt the wind; and he
started muttering to himself,

'Tar; Spanish onions; kerosene oil; wet raincoats; crushed
laurel-leaves; rubber burning; lace-curtains being washed--No, my
mistake, lace-curtains hanging out to dry; and foxes--hundreds of
'em--cubs; and--'

'Can you really smell all those different things in this one wind?'
asked the Doctor.

'Why, of course!' said Jip. 'And those are only a few of the easy
smells--the strong ones. Any mongrel could smell those with a cold in
the head. Wait now, and I'll tell you some of the harder scents that
are coming on this wind--a few of the dainty ones.'

Then the dog shut his eyes tight, poked his nose straight up in the air
and sniffed hard with his mouth half-open.

For a long time he said nothing. He kept as still as a stone. He
hardly seemed to be breathing at all. When at last he began to speak,
it sounded almost as though he were singing, sadly, in a dream.

'Bricks,' he whispered, very low--'old yellow bricks, crumbling with
age in a garden-wall; the sweet breath of young cows standing in a
mountain-stream; the lead roof of a dove-cote--or perhaps a
granary--with the mid-day sun on it; black kid gloves lying in a
bureau-drawer of walnut-wood; a dusty road with a horses'
drinking-trough beneath the sycamores; little mushrooms bursting
through the rotting leaves; and--and--and--'

'Any parsnips?' asked Gub-Gub.

'No," said Jip. "You always think of things to eat. No parsnips

[illustration and quote from lofting brazenly stolen from the blog Basic North]

© 2013 L. Ryan


  1. AAaaarggggghhhhH!MICHELLE BACHMANN!!!
    Can't she be eaten by a large cat???

  2. are you suggesting that i sacrifice buddy for the cause?


    i'm thinking of a team scenario.

    buddy and marmy.

    he moves in, mesmerizing bachmann with his very strange beady eyes, destroys her electronic capabilities (disables the panic button, chews through her bluetooth headset, and so on) and licks any protective personnel into submission, keeping some at bay by breath alone. most, i imagine, will shrug and walk away, thinking deep thoughts like: "it's about time!"

    buddy signals marmy, who races in like rin tin tin on a mission, dragging behind her fluffy tail a long bit of thick rope. the intrepid patriot cats truss up the misnomered legislator, then whistle for the hooman members of the black ops operation -- who transport her to a place, far, far away, where she can receive the psychiatric care she so clearly needs.

    unless she doesn't have insurance...


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