Sunday, October 11, 2015

Finding My Place in the World

"Why Oliver, I see you are broadening your horizons. Good for you, old buddy." I didn't have to turn around to know whose voice it was that called to me from the neighbor's deck. Vincent Jack Lewis, Vinny for short, and I have been best friends for nearly as long as I can remember. I'd know the sound of his voice, and the sound of his three-legged limp, anywhere. Vinny lost one of his legs to feline diabetes years ago. He said it was due in part to his indulgent lifestyle. He ate too many kitty treats and didn't exercise. Since the surgery, he has mended his ways. In fact, he's gone a bit too far if you ask me. He follows a vegan diet and does yoga several times a week. He is constantly trying to get me to follow his example, but I think I look good with a little extra cushion around the middle.

 "Vinny, check this out! It' a world map!" I exclaimed as Vinny joined me on my deck. I could barely contain my excitement.

 "I see that," Vinny replied in that cool, calm voice of his. Why couldn't he ever get as excited about stuff as I did? "My question is why do you have a world map? Are you planning a trip and did you forget to tell me about it?"

 I shook my head in response. "No, of course not. You would know if I were planning a trip. I am using this map to try and locate the kids in Miss R's class."

 "Ahhh, I see," nodded Vinny in that thoughtful way of his. "If I might make a suggestion? Perhaps it would help if you began your search in the correct hemisphere." He motioned with his paw to the Northwest quadrant of the map.

 "Thanks," I mumbled as I renewed my search efforts. I wasn't sure what a hemisphere was, but I wasn't about to let Mr. Yoga know that.

 "Ummm, Oliver, forgive me for stating the obvious, but shouldn't you be looking in the continent of North America?"

 "Duh, that's what I was going to do," I grumbled aware of the irritation entering my voice. Just what was a continent and how many of them were there?

 "There are seven continents," Vinny said as if he had read mind. "Miss R.'s class is in North America." Vinny motioned again with his paw to the words North America.

 "I know that," I snapped as I began searching an area in North America with Mexico emblazoned boldly across the paper.

 "Wrong country," Vinny said simply.

 "I know that!" I yelled back at him. I shouldn't have yelled. Vinny was only trying to help. I guess I was jealous of the fact that he was so much better at holding a map in his head than I was. He knew so much more about geography and.......everything. I just wanted to be the one who had the answers for once.

 "Look Oliver, I can see you are getting upset. You can do this, little buddy, you really can. Just find the right hemisphere, then look for the right continent, then country, then state, then city."

 "I know all that!" I snapped at him. I could tell I hurt his feelings. I shouldn't be so grouchy when he was only trying to be helpful.

 "All right, I will leave you to it then," Vinny said and his head drooped as he walked away. I needed to apologize, but first I needed to be able to show to Vinny that I could locate Miss R.'s classroom community on a map. Boys and girls, can you help? In what hemisphere, continent, country, state and city is your classroom community located? And do you have any suggestions about how I might make things better with my best friend, Vinny? Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Oliver the Great Writer

"It was a dark and stormy night." Bob's voice read over my shoulder.
"Hey, stop reading over my shoulder!" I screeched as I quickly slammed Miss R.'s netbook shut.  "If I wanted you to know what I was writing, I would've shown it to you!"  I continued.
Ignoring my complaints, Bob began to critique my work.  "You do know that's the most cliché beginning ever, right?"
"Of course, I do.....duh." I retorted.
"Oliver, do you even know what cliché means?" Bob asked. His voice was kind, but I was miffed.  Miffed, that's a new word I learned from Bob's Word of the Day app on his smart phone.  It means annoyed. "To be cliché," Bob continued without waiting for a response, "is to be the opposite of original. In other words, it's not a good thing.  You don't want to be cliché in your writing."
"Oh," I responded.  I worried if I said anything else it would come out cliché. 
"Oliver, tell me about your story." 
"Well, Young Authors Day is coming up at Miss R.'s school and I was thinking if I wrote a story and it was good enough then maybe I could join the celebration."
"I see."  Bob said.  "Well, now I know why you're writing, but I still don't know what you're writing."
"Well," I hesitated.  "I don't really know what I'm writing either.  I thought I would just start with a stormy beginning and see where my story takes me."
Bob paused for a moment and I could see he was trying to think of how to break down his advice for me so that I would understand it.  After an awkward and uncomfortable pause, he cleared his throat and began."Oliver, I don't think it's a very good idea to ramble your way through a story.  The best writers compose their stories with an end in mind.  They know where their story is going and they make sure that each sentence moves them closer to that goal."
"Oh," I said again. I had run out of original responses.  It seems this writing thing is tougher than I originally thought.  
"I think I can help," Bob said and he disappeared into his apartment.  When he returned he was carrying a piece of paper in his mouth.  He hopped onto my deck and dropped the paper at my feet.  "This is a story map," he explained.  "See, there are blank spaces for you to brainstorm your ideas about who the main characters in your story will be, and what sort of problems they'll face, and how they will solve those problems, and what they'll learn as a result of it all.  See, there are more places for you to jot down ideas for the main events and such."  I must have looked confused because Bob tried again.  "It's like a skeleton.  This story map will give shape to your story.  Once you know what all the important parts are then you can begin fleshing out the details."
"A skeleton," I said.  "I like the sound of that. It's spooky and exciting.  I'll do it." I said.  
Bob grinned and said, "You'll do great, Ollie.  I'll leave you to create your magnum opus." I didn't ask him what a magnum opus was.  I didn't want to give him the satisfaction.  "It means your great work." Bob offered anyway. 
"I know that," I lied.  
All right, boys and girls.  I really do find story maps rather intimidating.  Are you using story maps for your Young Authors Day stories?  What are some things you've written in your story maps?  Do you find that using story maps have helped you write your stories?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Working Out

"I hear congratulations are in order, my elephantine friend." I heard Bob's voice, but I was too famished to even bother asking what elephantine meant.  Besides, I was pretty sure it was NOT the compliment he was pretending it to be.  "Did you hear me, my corpulent companion?" I swear, ever since Bob discovered that "Word of the Day" app on his human's smart phone he's been impossible.  "I was just observing that you've lost a few pounds."

"I did not lose those pounds," I retorted.  "They were stolen from me!  Stolen as surely as Miss R. has begun to mix my magnificent Fancy Feast with.....with......with...." I couldn't finish the thought.  It seemed irreverent to use the word diet food  in the same sentence as Fancy Feast.

"But Oliver, look at you!  You're trimming down.  Well, maybe that's putting it too strongly, but you're definitely less obese than you were.  Doesn't that thrill you?"

"No!  It makes me hungry!  I'm hungry, Bob, and the only thing waiting for me in my food dish is that tainted Fancy Feast.  It's a cruel, cruel world, Bob."  I sighed and dropped my head into my paws in what I hoped was a dramatic fashion.

"Well, if you followed my example and exercised more you'd burn more calories and be able to eat a bit more."  He did one of his yoga poses called The Plank to prove his point, the show-off.

"I do exercise," I insisted.  "I run a lot."

"Running to your food dish does not count as exercise."

"Oh," I mumbled.  "Well, that's not the only time I run, I'll have you know."

"Well, running to catch the nearest sunbeam for a nap also fails to count as exercise."  Dang it!  Just then Miss Kitty dropped onto the deck seemingly out of no where.  She has a way of doing that. I scrambled to a sitting position and sucked in my massive gut as best as I could.
"Hi Boys," she grinned.  "What are we talking about?"

"Working out," I replied, but my voice came out all high-pitched the way it does when I've been sucking in my gut for too long.

"Hmmmmm," she said with that observant manner of hers.  "Well, Oliver, I had noticed that you were looking..." she paused here as if trying to find the right words, "less obese than usual."  Bob grinned in that triumphant way of his, but I found myself blushing with pleasure.

"Yes, well, I've been cutting back, you know, on food.  Trying to be healthy and all that.  Bob was just showing me some yoga poses that I might want to incorporate into my routine."  I tried to do the plank just then and ended up in a massive belly flop with folds of fat vibrating so viciously that they blew the deck dust into mini whirlwinds.  I blushed again, this time from pure mortification.

Miss Kitty stifled a cough and then said, "You know, Oliver, working out doesn't have to be work.  You can exercise plenty just by getting out and playing.  In fact, exercise should be fun."

This time it was my time turn to cough.  "Fun? Working out?  How is that I even possible?"

Miss Kitty just smiled, reached out to pat me with a paw and said, "Tag!  You're it!"  With that she was scampering around the deck like a mini whirlwind herself.  Bob and I joined the game and you know what?  She was right!  I did have fun.  Maybe, just maybe, I will get used to this healthy lifestyle.

Post Workout Snack

Monday, May 23, 2011

Soft, what light in yonder window breaks?

"Soft, what light in yonder window breaks?" That's how Othello started the conversation on Friday afternoon.  He had jumped down from his deck to join Bob and me on my deck.  Soft, what light in yonder window breaks?  What does that even mean? Bob just chuckled.

"Well quoted, my thespian friend, well quoted." Honestly, sometimes I just don't understand those two.  It's like they're speaking a different language.  "Othello is quoting a line from one of William Shakespeare's plays called Romeo and Juliet. It's the part where Romeo compares Juliet's radient beauty to that of the sun.  Of coure, today Othello is remarking about the radient beauty of the sun itself."

  Really?  Well then, why doesn't he just say so?  Still, I have to admit, Friday was a beautiful and lovely day.  The three of us spent all afternoon snoozing in the radient beauty of the sun. I've observed human kittens taking off their shoes and socks to run and play on days when the sun warms the ground.  I don't get it.  We cats prefer resting in the sun to playing in the sun.  I'm curious, boys and girls of Room 204.  What do you like to do in the sun?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

School Daze

" did it go?" asked Vinnie, Bob, Miss Kitty, and Othello the moment I came home from my school day adventure. They were waiting for me out on their respective decks as I knew they would be.

"Piece of cake," I replied nonchalently. OK...between you, gentle reader, and me, it wasn't exactly a piece of cake, but I do like me some cake now and then. I digress. Today, I'm afraid I got a little.......anxious. Ever since Miss R. told me I would be visiting the boys and girls this morning, I've been too excited even to eat! Visiting the boys and girls in Miss R.'s class is such a big deal. Miss R. even bought a stylish new carrying case for me. It's black which I understand is very slimming. The ride to school this morning was filled with anticipation. As Miss R. carried me through the halls, I felt my pulse quickening. Then we rounded the corner into her wing and I heard the crowds (and by crowds I mean the kids in the third grade wing) screaming my name and I panicked. So much pressure. Miss R. let me into the room before the students came in so I had a chance to explore, but I could see all the faces of the human kittens pressed against the glass of the door and I got the worst case of stage fright, ever. I tried to make a beeline for the hallway when the door at last opened, but Miss R. was too quick. She scooped me up before I could make get-a-way. Once the kids came in and settled in I began to relax, but I didn't feel completely calm again until Miss R. returned me to my slimming carrying case. Miss Lisa picked me up to take me home and I was sad to say good-bye to my friends. Anyway, here are the pics I showed Vinnie and the gang of my adventure. Boys and Girls, my favorite part of the day was meeting you! What was your favorite part of your Hundred Star Party day?
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bald and Beautiful

"All right, Oliver.  I pinkie swear promise not to laugh," said Bob but under his breath he added as if cats even have pinkies.  I ignored that.  "Tell me again why your tummy and, um, your rear are shaved smoother than a baby's bald head?"

"Well, there are quite a few reasons one would have to shave one's belly, " I retorted somewhat miffed.

"Really?  Name one."

Drat! He called my bluff.  "Well, to begin with, it's a fashion statement, very trendy. I predict cats everywhere will soon be shaving their bellies and their bottoms." I returned.

"Indeed," murmured Bob.  Sometimes he can be so smug!

"Also..." I paused, "...the vet needed to shave my belly so the radiologist could perform an ultrasound to determine what was wrong with me.  I was very sick." I tried my best to look pathetic.  It must've worked because Bob's expression grew softer.

"I am glad to see you back to your old self, friend.  You know, I was pretty worried about you."

"Thanks, Pal.  I am better.  The people at the Sunset Pet Hospital were really nice and they helped me to feel a lot better."

"I told you there was nothing to worry about.  Vets help animals." Bob smiled again and added, "So, what was wrong?  Did you ever find out?"

" was....." I hesitated.  It was kind of embarrassing.  That's what it was.  "I was...ummm....that is to say.....Iwasconstipated." The last part came out in a rush, like it was one long word.

"Constipated?  Did I hear that right?"  Bob tried to hide a smirk but I could see it playing about his whiskers.

"You promised you wouldn't laugh," I reminded him.  "You promised."

"I'm not laughing.  I'm ummmm......coughing....that's right....I'm coughing."

Coughing?  I don't think so!  I guess I can't blame him for laughing, though.  I do look pretty silly all bald in places.  I have no one to blame but myself.  Maybe it really is time to start....uggghhh....I can barely say it.....dieting.  It wouldn't hurt to start eating a healthier diet, lose a few.  I don't know where to start.  Boys and girls, I need some healthy yet delicious recipes to help me get through this ordeal.  What's your favorite healthy recipe?  I need your tips.  I can't handle any more constipation jokes at my expense!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sick Ollie

Whenever Bob seems to be having a streak of bad luck he likes to say, "When it rains, it pours."  I never understood that until this week.  For the past few days, I've had a bit of a stomach bug.  Don't get me wrong.  I would never let a little thing like an achy stomach keep me from eating, but my tummy has been hurting. Vinnie suggested I try eating less, but when has less food ever cured anyone?  On Saturday, Miss R. took me to a place that wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be.  That's right, boys and girls.  She took me to the see a vet and I discovered that the people at the Sunset Pet Hospital really did want me to feel better.  I won't tell you where the veterinarian stuck the thermometer,but that was less than pleasant. You would think that after enduring the aches of a tummy bug, and the indignity of having my temperature taken, that I would be left alone to pout in peace, but no.  After all this, I heard Miss R using a four letter word.....that's right, she said, "DIET!"  As in Miss R and the doctor want to put me on a diet!  Apparently 26 pounds is too much cat for some people to handle, but I say there is just more of me to hug.  Who wouldn't appreciate a big, furry Ollie hug now and then? Oh, the indecency of it all. Like Bob says, "When it rains, it pours."  It is definitely pouring now.  Stay tuned, children.  I go back to the vet on Tuesday. In the meantime, maybe it wouldn't hurt to try eating a little healthier and maybe exercising a teeny, tiny bit.  Boys and girls, do you have any healthy eating tips for me?  What about exercise?  Do you have any ideas on fun ways I can get my body moving a bit more?  I need to hear from you and soon....before that horrible four letter word is spoken again.