You may wonder why we publish a diary about animals on a political blog. My reasoning is that sometimes I am “up to here” with all the political news, the outrages, the nonsense, the angst and the predictions, and I am ready to take a little break for a few minutes and read something benign.
My stories are meant to provide a little respite from the craziness for anyone who wishes it. If you don’t care to read such things, please just move on to something that is more to your taste. For the others, I hope you enjoy reading these tales. They are meant to be “family friendly,” so you can feel free to read them to your children or grandchildren, to your pets, to the squirrels in the trees outside or the bears rooting in your trash cans.
After all, as Garfield once said, we are all in this together.
My cats Allen and Kiki have been leafing through some books and urging me to read to them again. I decided to read them some poems that I have liked, poems written by people other than me. Perhaps others have already explored this theme before. If so, I apologize. I’ll try to put some original thought into my diaries.
Kiki’s paw rested on a drawing of a boat and some unusual occupants. “What’s this about? And why are those animals in that thing? What if they fell out into the water and got wet!”
“This tale tells about a bird and a kitty, and, if we can believe the story, they fared pretty well and didn’t ever fall out or get wet.”
“I want to hear, too.” Allen settled himself in his usual place on my arm. It made it a little hard to do things, but I love to feel him there.
“It’s called The Owl and the Pussycat, and it was written more than a hundred and fifty years ago by a poet named Edward Lear.
“And an owl is a bird? Like the birds we see outside our window?” Allen looked at me in wonder.
“Well, an owl is a very large bird. I don’t think we have seen any of them on the fence outside our house. Let’s see what happened to him and his friend.”
The owl and the pussycat went to sea
in a beautiful pea-green boat.
Kiki wrinkled up her nose. “Pea-green? That sounds terrible. What is a boat, anyway?”
“A boat is a thing that floats on the water. Whoever rides in it is called a passenger. Look at the picture. These two critters were passengers in the boat. Besides, I rather like the color of peas. They’re good to eat, too, but that has nothing to do with this story.”
Author’s note: I couldn’t resist slipping this next one in here, speaking of cats in boats…
Now…moving right along…“Let’s check out some more of this poem.”
They took some honey and plenty of money
wrapped up in a five-pound note.
Kiki asked, “Weren’t you talking the other day about notes you were trying to learn so you could sing a song? How could somebody wrap up money in a note?”
“In Britain, one of the kinds of money they use is called a note. A five-pound note is something like what we here would call a five-dollar bill.”
“So, they wrapped up money in money?” Allen was curious now. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
“I kind of think you’re right, Allen. Perhaps the money they wrapped up was metal coins, and they wrapped it up in the paper note. Or, maybe they were using the five-pound note to hide more valuable money to keep someone else from stealing it.”
“Was there someone else on the boat?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Silly story so far, if you ask me,” piped up Kiki. “And why did they take honey? Cats don’t eat honey. I would have liked to take some tuna.”
Allen had an idea. “Maybe the owl liked honey. Or maybe they were friends with Winnie the Pooh, and he gave them some of his honey just to be nice. They could catch their own tuna if they had a fishing rod. I saw one of those once. Your dad had some fishing rods down in his basement.”
I was wondering if I should have chosen a different poem.
The owl looked up to the stars above
and sang to a sweet guitar
‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are!’
Both cats sat up then and paid attention.
“What a nice owl to say such things. I’m beginning to like him already,” Kiki purred.
Allen had another question. Do you think he played that guitar with his wing feathers? I like it when you play the guitar and sing to us, Mom, but you have fingers and the owl doesn’t.”
I smiled and thought about that a bit. “I kind of admire that owl. He was pretty talented, wasn’t he? It is hard enough to play a guitar using fingers. I can’t imagine having to do it with feathers.”
Pussy said to the Owl, ‘You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?’
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
“Before you ask, we don’t have any bong trees in our yard,” I told the kitties. Bong trees grow in places far away, in countries near the South Pacific Ocean.
But they weren’t paying attention to me. They didn’t care about the trees. Their eyes were googly, looking at the pig.
“We saw a person one day with a ring in their nose. We didn’t know pigs wore jewelry, too.”
“Ummm…” I had nothing to say. Poor pig.
“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’
“Ah, what a nice pig,”
“Well, if a shilling was one of those coins they had wrapped up in that five-pound note, then the pig did make some money on the deal. Maybe they shared some of their honey with him, too.”
“Or their tuna.”
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
“Lucky they found that turkey.” Kiki was nodding her head.
Allen chimed in with his opinion. “Well, I think it would have been nicer if they had been married by a cat. Cats know how to do things like that.”
“Of course,” He looked up at me earnestly. “Cats are very good at lots of things.”
“Yes, I have noticed that,” I told them, although I wasn’t sure that performing marriage ceremonies was among those things.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
“Is quince like tuna? That’s what I would like at my feast,” Allen said, and Kiki agreed.
“I actually think that quince is a kind of fruit. I saw a picture and it looks something like a pear.”
“And mince? Maybe they meant minced cat food or something.”
“Mince, I’m not sure of.”
Allen had a suggestion. “Maybe the ‘n” in the word “mince” was a mistake. It’s probably supposed to be “mice. Oh, yeah, Mom, I’ll bet that’s it…mice…That would make the cat happy. Maybe the owl, too.”
“I wonder if the owl got a vote about what they were going to eat,” Kiki mused.
“Well, one would hope so. He was one of the important participants in the wedding.”
“Do you have any runcible spoons in your kitchen? I’ve never heard of a runcible spoon.”
I have been told that the name “runcible spoon” was made up by the guy that wrote the poem, but nowadays it usually means a kind of fork that is curved like a spoon…like the sporks they give out at KFC.”
“Oh, Mom, speaking of KFC, are you going there some time? I am so thinking of some yummy chicken.”
Oh, my, what have I stirred up now? “For now, let’s see what happened to the owl and the pussycat.”
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
“Oh, that is so romantic,” they chimed in together. They were smiling and purring.
We had a good time with our reading today. we hope you had a good time, too.
By the way, this poem is in the public domain. If you would like to read it without all the feline interruptions, as well as see a drawing of its author, you can find it here ~
Stay cool and stay well. We all hope to see you again next week.