Monday, January 8, 2018
My story began as a backyard kitten on Olive Street. Grabbed by Fortune’s hand, I was selected to join the Seventh Street ABCD Collective. What a tormenting tease I was to that senior miri, Miss Douglasina Prickle Puss, when during my kitten days we shared the kitchen with a pair of American Eskimo dogs, two macaws, Baldey Crow, and three small unimportant birdies. Miss D., you never forgave me my transgressions despite my obvious admiration for your plushy black coat and witch bright eyes. “Little Crumb,” you sneered, whiskers aquiver. Although my Kani name Malka Ilka or “Last Crumb” lacks regal resonance, I felt myself to be a sable prince until Yotur, Esmeralda, and finally Whiskers mewed their way into the Collective. Any title I had was then paw batted into the trash. Nevertheless, I have continued to conduct myself as a noble personage of Siamese heritage should among commoners, cultivating aristocratic manners, subtle taste, and erudite conversation in consequence of which I am always assigned to welcome our Collective’s guests. Upon how many laps have I graciously bestowed a royal purr? How many compliments have stroked my fur sleek? How many felted souvenir balls have been made from my excess hair?
In the role of property manager, a cat requires free access to all rooms, closets, and drawers. Hilary’s workroom and bedroom have always been the contended exceptions. An employed miri does not need Collective permission to move property about or to alter its appearance. View the handsome red wing armchair residing in the living room as an example of my decorative clawwork. I’ve left my signature clawprint on sheepskin bed covers, bookcases, chair seats, the kitchen bench and table. In the future, my two trainees, Yotur and Esmeralda, should maintain this standard of care.
To sum up those fabled nine miri lives I’ve experienced: I’ve loved Miss D. (unrequited), Uli dog while she was tiny enough to be pounced upon, bedspreads (any variety), the taste of fresh catnip, Brenda Biscuit’s lap, gloved grooming, a full begging bowl not licked by Yotur. I’ve learned to loath cat carriers with their stink of a vet office, flea treatments, pills, needle punctures, claw clipping, closed doors or gates, and mini American Eskimo puppies and I feared the fangs of the Great Devourer. Despite being deprived in kittenhood of a mother, I have acquired wisdom by taming my claw instincts and developing my mind’s eye.
Finally, I would like to make a few bequests to you who remain on Willis Avenue.
To you, Yotur, my rotund friend, I leave my two begging bowls from which countless times you have snatched tidbits. Now you may expand into the rest of the cat bed we shared. It was a tight fit. You may also have my new leather collar if it can go round your chubby neck.
Esmeralda, I will no longer dispute ownership of the back hallway catbox. The smell is yours. Let Yotur ask permission to use it as did. Sharpen those sweet scimitar claws on him when he protests.
Whiskers, my quota of minutes allowed on Brenda Biscuit’s are yours. So is my quota of acceptable complaint minutes. You run out of yours by noon. I believe your persistent nasal meerow should be heard.
Uli dog, I promise you dreams of our tussles together when I was your puppy-sitter. As you remember, I always landed on top. Sadly, you never learned cat skills. Additionally, since you will be the senior four-paws, I wish you best of luck in teaching the pup to quietly snooze away her afternoons.
Well, Old Birdo, you can congratulate yourself for having outlived another miri. Chomp another notch in your perch while you are gloating. Sorry, it’s a steel one that’s replaced all the wooden ones you ate. Whispered gossip hints you arrived in San Jose a humble parrot sans tailfeathers. Since humility is considered a primary virtue even for birds, may you re-earn it by loosening all your flight equipment as a result of continuous squawking.
Varna Macaw,I’ll just hope you crack a upper beak as Baldey Crow did (actually it was broken when trespassing). This too, can be a humbling experience. Remember, during a lifetime you issued only one nut-cracking, seed-scooping beak set. Silent vocalization is my advice.
At last I’ve arrived at the bottom of my bowl of bequests. Laihainai Ourai, the spring wind who has whirled us creatures around until, like exhausted leaves, we dropped from a previous pleasurable existence onto the cold tile of our present reality, what appropriately just gift shall I leave you, pup? I think I must bequeath you the sum of my many misdeeds multiplied by your own (and that’s a lot, believe me), the total to be commandeered by General Malka into an army of haunts that will charge yowling into your sleep dreams for as many suns and moons as you will continue wearing your white hair coat. Happy naps!
It is well known that we midnight miri are especially dear to Moon Mother Uma, who governs the ebb and low of our life water. She quickens this water so we prance a lifetime in the green world. When our earth-heavy forms have worn away, she draws up our water like a moonbeam, so we can again dance in her honor as we did in our youthful bone bodies at cat neighborhood full moon socials. Clothed in soft sky pelts, shaking silver whiskers, pirouetting on cloud paws, star bright eyes wide, we thrash our night wind tails in joyous rhythms that thrill living creatures. While it is true that in daytime I may only appear as a transparent moon miri memory, during your sleep dreams, I will forever be Malka wearing midnight heaven’s fur.
Saturday, December 2, 2017
Esmeralda, Property Mistress. (Take that smirk off your puss, Malka, or someone will swipe it off.) Seems a thousand moons ago, I was thrilled to get this title. Yotur became Property Manager about the same time, but he’s always assumed his duties to consist of keeping an eye on our food supplies. I say eye, because if he lifts a paw, he’s likely to unbalance. Easiest for him to work lying down. Now I’m nimble on my paws and have no problem lifting one up to whack a runaway spoon. I like to keep my claws sharpened on the kitchen table or window bench, stolid wooden things that can’t easily avoid me. Originally from Mexico, they still haven’t learned to speak proper Kani (animal lingo). Which brings me to today’s Tsunami of a property problem (we cats watch such thriller movies with Brenda Biscuit).
It’s caused by authentication papers. Who’d have thought that, after all the traveling to and fro of property, a moon should come when a respectable item of kitchenware such as a stainless steel tea kettle should be asked for proof of its origin and legal entry into San Jose. This requirement of provenance receipts and sales documents has set our Willis Street house into as devastating a tremor as might an earthquake (according to Birdo who shook through one). Every few minutes, some plate or bowl is desperately requesting I turn them over to find a trademark. Hey, my paws aren’t meant to heft pottery. Slap it around a bit if it doesn’t move out of my way, yes. Our antique Chinese brass wares are particularly disturbed, “We come with august family on ship to Seattle port, thousands and thousands of suns ago. No papers needed. Or if papers, they are now dust.” The Russian samovar in the living room has been groaning about revolutionary edicts and pograms, but only a couple of Russian books can make any sense of its mutterings. Several Turkish plates hanging up in the kitchen have requested we affix them permanently to the wall. A carpet on a chest in the bedroom keeps repeating it is Oriental not Iranian. No papers for that rug, either, just a safety-pinned tag reading “hang out on clothesline once a year and beat to get rid of dust and moths.” Those two wooly German Christmas socks befriended by my predecessor, Property Mistress Douglasina, have snuck into hiding in our garage.
We members of the Willis Street ABCD Collective believe that only a widespread, organized protest by animal households will cause the authorities to pause in implementing whatever unjust laws are creating such devastatingly disruptive social turmoil. Voice your indignation at this cruel treatment of our necessary and legitimately employed property, animal citizens of San Jose!
Reported by Esmeralda, Property Mistress
Sunday, February 5, 2017
The trouble with dead relatives is that they don’t really vanish. True, they have become transparent, meat bodies dissolving, drifting away like clouds, but like clouds their spirit selves can reappear. For example, here is my mama, Ragni Ourai. Comfortably settled in a plastic basket we used to share when she was alive, her nose is resting on its rim. If I had outward looking eyes, I would be able to see the back curve of this basket through her head. However transparent, Mama Ragni’s voice isn’t a wind’s whisper. She barks her instructions quite distinctly into my ears. I’m blind but not deaf. She’s tells me how her foster parents, Mama Zeida Patitas and Papa Maruka insisted on lingering around to school her and my papa, Sunja Oura. Traditional hrana (our kani name for dog) tales and entertaining accounts of the couple’s adventures in Mexico were welcome, but their advice for the youngsters, Ragni and Sunja, was not. Although a bit shy, my mother definitely believes she knows everything she needs to know, without any more information, thank you. I feel the same way.
My Papa Sunja is more mellow. He can listen with one ear awake, the other snoozing. My parents’ most pleasurable moments during ancestor visits were those when Zedai’s adopted adult kitten, bossy Miss D. (for Douglasina or Dreadful) received a maaki (ghost spirit in kani) scolding. Seasons later, while stretched out scentless and transparent on our doghouse roof, Grandma Zeidai insisted on educating me, too. Mama Ragni would pace around grumble growling that spirit wisdom was nonsense, but I appreciated hearing about adventures so different from the events of my San Jose days. Oh, to sit on a beach by something called ocean, and be offered fresh fish! My fishie in the dishie was always cooked and shaped into kibble. ”I once nearly tumbled down into a very huge hole in the ground called a canyon,” says Grandma Zeidai. “And you prickled that long nose of yours snuffing Mexican cactus,” chuckles Grandpa Maru. “Remember how you decided to guard our print shop by lying on a bed there.” He prefers to tell me about legendary hrana heroes, such as black-coated Eskan, who stole back Lord Sun’s eye from the monster Swallower, only to be burned white as ash and sun-blinded in both eyes. Papa Sunja recites stories about dogs who in their first or second lives were reborn as a bear, a boar, an elephant, or even as a cat (a punishment, he suspects).
Some mid winter evenings the Willis Avenue kitchen is crowded with transparent guests, nosing and nudging each other for a spot to stretch out. It’s easier now to recognize them since I see with my mind eyes. I’d prefer a peaceful nap, but, as Grandpa Maru reminds me, I will soon have a great deal of time to sleep. I ask him if he returns to our house on Seventh Street. I know he loved its garden and the neighboring streets where he and Grandma Zeidai would take walks.” Much changed outside,” he says, “but the grapefruit tree and smelly bay remain as evergreen as I remember.” Occasionally, translucent Fred, once a human member of Seventh Street Collective, darts into our yard in the shape of a hummingbird for a sweet sip of news from our Willis Avenue garden flowers. He says it’s easier to flit around as a live creature when visiting San Jose family. Humans have difficulty recognizing maaki relatives.
Soon Lord Sun will wake earlier. Dozing seeds will stretch shoots eagerly up through the warming soil to begin new lives. Spring winds will sweep up our troublesome but mostly welcome ancestor maaki into the restless clouds, hurrying them away to a summer land where they can hunt and play until our winter memories recall them.
Contributed by Uli Var
Thursday, January 19, 2017
This is Malka, senior cat, putting paws to keyboard. Yes, the Collective has taken an irresponsibly long time to add a post, but we have had an eventful year (oops, several years, but I am reporting on 2016). Several of us required special vet visits because of certain internal problems that can develop as we age. In the case of one of us, the problem might be identified rather as over indulgence in pleasures of the palate. No name is being mentioned although I could point a paw toward a stomach.
It was a lovely, sunny summer. Too hot for us to hustle about governing our household property. Naturally things scuttled about, got muddled or dirty, when the flick of a tail should have swept detritus away to reestablish order. Esmeralda is the spriest of us, yet she settled for chasing us about with her fierce eyes and a show of unclipped claw. Escaping a swipe was the most exercise Whiskers, Yotur and I could manage.
Enough news for you? Then I’ll close with our holiday festivities. A satisfying solstice banquet was provided. We, miri, prefer to hold our own lunar party for Mother Uma, but dogs and birds love Lord Sun, so, coats groomed, feathers fluffed and straightened, we creatures obligingly raised our voices in semi-harmonious tribute to the author of our fate. After which hymn or because of which, begging bowls were topped with favorite tidbits and Willis Avenue settled down to enjoy the peace we all deserve. In the darkening evening of the year we respectfully remembered our mentor, Grandpa, sire of the front yard Tatamiru family, who returned to his ancestors on a night this past mid-summer.
(use any appropriate tune or melodic collection of sounds)
"Meow, meow, woof, woof, and squawk
Sing we among the catnip leaves.
Our wassail bowls brim with broth
And heartily we feed on fish
(or beefy bits, pecans and fruit).
To all our furred and feathered friends
We carol out good wishes for
More food filled days and comfy beds (or perches)In this New Year we celebrate."
I forgot to record that Moritz of the Max and Moritz act, has reappeared without his partner brother. He didn’t rate a rousing welcome, gave no account of missing Max, but space for an extra bowl was assigned him in the back patio. Like a typical traveling showman, he arrives, brags of important engagements, and disappears again to a whisker waving of relief.
Tail up, whiskers alert, claws polished, I am prepared to swagger forward into the future.
Submitted by Malka Ilka
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Sorry, I was distracted from my required property management report. I just couldn’t resist justifying my expansive approach to life, which I will defend against clawed comments and Collective dietary legislation. Actually my idea of property management originates with what’s in my stomach.
However, to get back to Collective business, we have an adequately stocked summer pantry despite having to feed at least eight additional mouths. The Collective voted 4 (cats, of course) to 3 (dog and birds, naturally) to take on this charitable burden of providing shelter and food to two indigent miri families: the Tatamiru and Pelagiamiru or the heads (front yard) and tails (back yard) clans as I like to call them. Already this very charitable act has had unpleasant consequences. No more front yard outings for Mr. Whiskers and myself. The Tatamiru being streetwise toughs, pack hefty paw punches, claws out, when challenged. I’m definitely not the possessive type. You can share my kibbles and I’ll share yours. Just be aware I eat faster. Territory, even a cat cushion, isn’t worth a dispute. Malka, Mr. Whiskers, and Esmeralda believe in an extended claws plus visible teeth policy, deriding my open screen door and pacifist preferences.
Since Uli Var’s eyes have ripened from brown to white, I’ve volunteered as her sighted companion, nudging her away from furniture, escorting her to her begging bowl or the back door, and encouraging her to do roll and rise exercises instead of simply sprawling supine hour after hour. My efforts are not always appreciated, but I suppose the caretaker of a senior should expect some grouchy growls.
Midsummer is just a few days away and we anticipate being very busy with catnip processing, then harvesting lavender and oregano. Next comes the now traditional grape picking fete, and our famous applesauce cookup. Hey, outside miri, are you going to put your paws to helping with our tasks? “It’s payback time,” says Malka, displaying his long tooth smirk. He wants the Collective to post the same ABCD Collective entrance fee sign on our porch that was tacked up on the Seventh Street front door. Our fee for admittance to house and grounds was one appropriate edible treat per Collective member. He also strongly recommends visitors be warned that outside miri are definitely not legitimate members. Malka’s suggestion will be discussed and voted on at our upcoming Collective meeting. I am in favor of the proposal.
Submitted by Yotur Na’Atira
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Yes, this is our first collective report although we, the Pelagiamiru miri (cat) family, were brought here to this garden 11 moons ago by our mama, Pelagia. No, we weren’t invited, so, of course, mama hid us in the dirt, spider-space between the garage storage building and the fence. After a while we got offered tasty food and better sleeping quarters in the storage building's roofed patio. Then all of us, first mama, then my sister Euphrasia and I, and finally my brothers, Aegidius and Theophanes, were enticed by chicken chunks to enter a wire box and briefly abducted. It was a very unpleasant experience that I won’t describe. Amazingly, one by one, we were returned by way of uncomfortable plastic boxes to our garden. Reunited we settled in for the chilly, sometimes wet, winter moons.
Initially the only direct contact we had with the ABCD (aka Willis Avenue) Collective was with Miss Uli Dog, who on first meeting made sure we understood we were just squatters, tolerated until the collective could vote on whether we should be given provisional garden privileges. She stressed that no outside animals ever would be permitted full membership with house rights and duties. However I have heard cat gossip through the back screen door that Mr. Yotur, Mr. Whiskers, and Ms Esmeralda were originally yard miri. Therefore we sprawl ourselves among flower pots, on wood benches, under the persimmon or grapefruit tree, in any spot where one can be easily spotted, and hope for that desired invite. Surely this big building with an upstairs house and an underneath storage space must have room for 4 or 5 more occupants.
When spring breezes began to whisper in our ears, Euphrasia and my brothers began to make excursions out into the world of Willis Avenue and beyond. I went along a few times to the full moon socials we miri enjoy, never mind where. Euphrasia met some interesting toms and decided to move out. She drops by occasionally to say hello. However my brothers like this easy life, always showing up again after a night or two with pals. Theophanes gave me a bit of a fright when he disappeared at claw moon, reappearing at half belly moon almost as thin as his tail and dragging a bitten leg. He’s nearly his old self now. Food and rest as prescribed by mama and me have aided his recovery. But he still has to hop a bit to keep up with our breakfast rush and prefers reclining on his left side to eat.
To date I can report that possums are avoiding our property. Several mice have been executed for trespass and, although crow gang members spy on our crops, we’ve had no raids. Neighborhood miri, even if our cousins, must apply at the collective’s front door for passes to visit the garden. Pigeons, oh well, what can I say. They’ve been taught from the egg to peck up anything they can get a beak into, even if they lose a feather or two in the attempt. At least they have brains enough not to use our bird (really cat) bath. When the grapes ripen, Aegidius and I will probably be very busy up in the arbor. Theophanes hopes to join in the fun. He was better at climbing than I am. We all are polishing our claws, anticipating the harvest moon.
Submitted by Kyriaki Pelagiamiru
Sunday, June 10, 2012
See these long handsome white whiskers, very efficient pigeon radar when policing our front yard, one of the several jobs which keep me in cat kibbles. These efficient whisker tools are how I got my street moniker Mr. Whiskers. Better curl up in a comfortable chair like Brenda Biscuit does while you read my post because I always have a lot to talk about after my frequent patrols. Perhaps you've noticed me crouched in the regulation cat sentry alert posture on the grass by the wire fence keeping out unlicensed four paws. Believe me there's a lot to be learned from grass if you know how to question it. For instance: What acrid scent am I sniffing on your blades? Or, Is that pigeon poop you are trying to hide? If a patch of grass doesn't cooperate, I can chew it. That usually gets results.
Now, trees you have to scratch up a bit. Then they will drop the goods faster than a leaf can flutter down. If I were a birdie, I wouldn't trust a tree branch roost as far as the end of my beak not to inform on my comings and goings. However plants aren't my only sources for news. In my wander cat days, I picked up quite a bit of pigeon lingo. In fact, I've rather a good ear for pooch slang and human chatter. Probably because neighborhood gossip is such fun. Why would any creature want to fill their ears with TV box sounds when there's the noise of exciting happenings to tune in to when sitting outside in a front yard?
By the way, the harness and leash I wear outside is an official sentry outfit, symbolic of my responsibility to law and order within the confines of our Collective property. Yotur also wears one, but in a junior officer capacity.
So what's the scoop on Willis Avenue now that summer has chased out spring? Uli tells me that our vegetable crop is coming along nicely in the back yard: beans, squash (she nearly squashed a zucchini plant), tomatoes, peppers, eggplant. None of this very interesting to cats. Grapes, apples, persimmons, no thanks. I perk up when she reports a bumper harvest of catnip. Perhaps I can get a pass to visit the back garden to sample the catnip in the interest of quality control. One of our suggested money-raising projects is to create felted wool balls filled with catnip. Esmeralda has been playing around with several to find out how long a ball will last before it spills its catnip.
Crow scouts are spying on Willis backyards but they don't seem excited about pickings on a street without stone fruit trees, corn stalks, or spilled garbage. At least that's what they caw about. Pigeons, what's to say about pigeons but yum. Strutting mouthfuls, excluding feathers. They seem quite unconscious of their culinary appeal. On the other paw, they probably have been informed by parrot broadcast about our Collective's law forbidding hunting on Collective property. This law was passed despite several dissenting votes before I became a member. Wait a few weeks until those feathered gluttons discover a ripe grape crop on the front fence and let's see if that law doesn't get repealed!
Time to head out for an evening patrol so I'll end my post with a last tidbit: a new dog on the block. Max the Poodle, just my idea of the right size for a pooch, no bigger than myself. The right color - black - for appearing well groomed without making an effort. Like myself he has been hired into a home after several years of rough living outside. However, appearing not to resent past misfortunes, he is ready to discover folk to be friends rather than enemies. By the way it seems sensible that only small dogs are living on a small street like Willis. Less crowding, fewer canine disputes over territory, more chance for local government by cats. This is important if you don't belong to a more-or-less democratic animal collective.
Posted by Mr. Whiskers