Friday, January 28, 2011


"Hey, Vinnie, what'cha ya doin'?" I called to my three-legged neighbor. Vinnie appeared to be scratching around in a small, rectangular box of litter, but what strange litter.  Usually litter is light grey.  The stuff he was digging was a dark, blackish-brown.  Clearly not litter.

"I'm sorry, Oliver, what was that?  These old ears aren't what they used to be." Vinnie smiled up at me with that semi-toothless grin of his.  I love Vinnie's gap-filled smiles.  They always warm my heart.

"I asked what you were doing."

"I'm tending to my vegetable garden, young man." replied Vinnie with what seemed like a small amount of modest pride.  "Yessirree, nothing beats fresh vegetables harvested from your own deck garden."

Before I could stop myself the word, "Eeeuuuuwww" escaped my lips.  "Sorry, I don't mean to be rude.  I just don't like vegetables." I explained.

"Quite all right. I understand.  I used to hate 'em myself.  That was back in the day before diabetes claimed my leg."

"Dia...what...ese?"  I asked.

"Diabetes.  It's a disease that we felines are susceptible to.  It comes from eating too much unhealthy food and not enough veggies.  By the time my vet discovered the disease it had already progressed to the point where I needed to have my leg amputated." He patted the stump that served as his leg. "Yessirreee, this here ol' stump is my battle wound in my fight against the disease, but I've come out the winner.  I changed my unhealthy eating and have started growing my own healthy food."  He looked at me again and I could see his old eyes twinkling. 

"I don't see any vegetables." I said.

"Well, no, not yet.  They take time to grow.  Right now, I'm just tending to the soil." He motioned to the blackish-brown stuff and I recognized it then as the stuff Miss R.'s plants grow in.

"Soil.  I know a little bit about soil.  Miss R's students are studying soil right now at school.  I bet they might even have information that would help your garden grow."  I was pleased to think that I might be able to help Ol' Cat Vinnie.  He's just a cool guy.

"Oliver, that would be marvelous. I sure would appreciate it," Vinnie said and he grinned that old gap-toothed smile of his. 

So, boys and girls, I need your help.  What can you tell me about soil?  How does soil help plants grow?  Do you have any information that would help Vinnie?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

What a coincidence that the boys and girls in Room 204 happen to be studying soil on the same day that I visited my new neighbor, Othello.  Why is that a coincidence, you ask? Well, it just so happens that Othello was preparing for a new role in an upcoming feline production of Shakespeare's "As You Like It."  Apparently, his preparation called for tearing into and rolling around in his human's 20 pound sack of garden soil. When I asked him what garden soil had to do with acting, Othello just rolled his eyes and replied, "Lord, what fools these mortals be." Bob later told me that's a line from another one of Shakespeare's plays. Anyway, Othello's human was clearly not impressed with that particular exercise in acting because she rewarded the little guy with a bath. I don't think the post-bath scowl and the attitude that you see photographed here had anything to do with role preparation. I hoped the catnip cookies I baked would cheer up the little guy, but when he smelled the cookies he just rolled his eyes again and said, "Oft expectation fails, and most oft here."  At first, I thought that might be a compliment to my cookies, but Bob suggested otherwise. I think maybe Othello just needs to learn to avoid activities that require tub time.  Maybe you boys and girls in Room 204 could summarize what you know about soil and then I can show Othello why it's not a good thing to prepare for acting roles by rolling around in dirt.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Monday morning dawned wet and cold, the kind of day where I prefer to stay in bed and sleep in.  You can imagine my irritation then when a deep, booming voice resounded from outdoors, reverberating throughout my apartment.  Irritation gave way to awe and wonderment as I heard the beautiful words, "I have a dream...."  The poetry of the words and the tone of the voice wrapped themselves around me.  "I have a dream," the voice repeated.  I love hearing about people's dreams so I jumped through the pet door and launched myself onto my deck where I could hear better.  I could see my neighbor Bob sitting at attention on his deck next to mine.  "Hey Bob," I whispered.  "What's going on?  Who is that?"

"Shhhh," whispered Bob.  "That's the new guy in C403.  His name is Othello.  He's one of the few successful feline Shakespearean actors. Today he is honoring the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by reciting the leader's best known speech.."

"Huh?" I said.  What I meant was who ever heard of a famous feline Shakespeaerean actor?

"Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." Bob repeated.  "He was a leader in the area of civil rights."

"Civil rights? What does that mean?" I asked outloud but my brain was still trying to figue out what a feline Shakespearean actor was.

"Shhhh, Oliver." Bob sighed.  I could tell he was getting annoyed, but seriously a feline Shakespearean actor? "Just listen, Oliver.  It'll make more sense if you just listen."

So I curled up on deck table and listened as the new cat, Othello, continued reciting the words that first moved a nation so many decades ago.  "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.' "  I continued to listen as the words washed over me making me feel a strange sense of hopefulness and peace.  I wish I had known this leader of civil rights.

I'm curious, kids, what can you tell me about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? I'd like to know more about the man that penned those words.  And what are your dreams?  I'd like to know what human kittens dream about. In the meantime, I'm going to bake some catnip cookies to bring to the new cat, Othello.  I've got to see this feline Shakespearean actor with my own eyes.  Who knew?