Ray Bradbury’s month

When I could not go to school during one or another of conflicts in Shanghai, I stayed home and read. Shanghai had thousands of refugees from other conflicts in Europe and one, a Russian emigre, ran an English-language lending library. When the British and Americans departed Shanghai, Mihail found himself with a houseful of books and no borrowers. I forget how I knew him, but I wound up benefiting from his misfortune. He allowed me to take out any number of books I wanted and as often as I wanted, all free of charge.

Ray Bradbury was one of my discoveries. My nose was so deeply buried in his stories that whenever the American warplanes roared overhead to bomb parts of the city, I had to be dragged to the family’s improvised air raid shelter. As soon as the All Clear sounded, I was back at Ray Bradbury. The month of October belonged to him. He summoned up autumnal scenarios and spirit wraiths and windblown leaves that changed colors as they scuttered along the earth, and I remained immersed in the strange lands he conjured up until I was fully grown and then beyond.

Imagine, then, my awe at actually seeing and hearing the man himself at the Asilomar Writers Conference! A mild-appearing man with more than a hint of blarney in him, he recounted a visit to Ireland, where he heard (he swore) a banshee’s eerie call, which he delivered with suitable Gaelic theatrics. I could not stop smiling. He might have noticed, I don’t know.
Bijou is bundled up on my lap asleep after his bath with special (“For Dogs, Cats and Horses”) shampoo. His treatment for ringworm continues for another three weeks. The boy is growing fast, eats so much his belly is the biggest part of him. He will eat only wet food but I have begun seeding it with kibble. This kitten so far refuses to be weaned though the vet tells me it should be accomplished at eight weeks. But this little guys wants his milk when he wants it. Ray Bradbury, help!


The Raising of Bijou

He weighs all of about two lbs. now and has overcome a couple of the conditions that bothered him. The bruised leg is well, and so are his eyes. But — there is always a but in life — his tests read positive for ringworm, which I am told is highly contagious. For almost a week now I have been washing his little head and ears and shoulders, drying them, then applying Lamisil anti-fungal cream. It is not much of a struggle to hold him in place while doing all this, and he will let out a cry of protest now and then. Unfair, as usual. To supplement this, he starts taking pills today.

I yearn to cuddle him and he yearns for me as well. His favorite place is on the back of my neck under my hair. Before the skin business became known he would stay there while I sat at this screen. It is as well Loaner has not yet taken to licking him, perhaps because he doesn’t smell right, plastered with Lamisil as he is these days.

My hands are washed so much they feel like wallboard; if the ringworm wanted to move onto me the mere washing of hands will be insufficient. And then there is Loaner….

Bijou’s fixation on water continues. He naps against the water dish and drinks frequently. I have made a pad for him in the bathroom where he spends many of the night hours. Either there, or on my shoes or slippers. I could weep when I see him playing with Mojo’s toys, and yesterday he surprised me by crunching down on the yarn ball I had tied to string at the end of a dowel, and pelting off with it to his stash in the bedroom. Attached to the other end, I went with him.

When he is all well, I will cuddle him as he has never been before. That’s a promise.


Bijou the Neck Cat

Bijou is slowly changing from a being sick kitten to a friskier one but is still not at his kitten best. The antibiotics are helping his gum condition, his sore leg is all better, and the conjunctivitis is improving. His path to cuddling involves climbing up to my shoulder, where he settles on the back of my neck under my hair.

The little guy insists on sitting close to the water dish and cries to get into the bathtub which holds water I recycle. Obviously he smells water and wants to be near. So he has emotional scarring as well; those scorching days he spent alone and lost, with no water to drink, before Jenni found him, have left their mark.

My adult cat Loaner is coming around, letting him snuggle for 30 seconds before getting up and moving away. I predict total acceptance will occur in two weeks. The photo of the two together will stand for all time….

Since Jenni cannot find his family in the vicinity of her home I conjecture he was dumped. I wonder if there is an especially hot place in hell for that sort of subhuman?



I went to a movie and lunch with a friend and came home with a kitten about five weeks old, just like Mojo when he first came to me. Jenni had rescued the little one in her backyard and cared for him/her for a week amid her four cats.

I pondered adopting the new one during the movie and by lunchtime I had decided. It was useless putting off another adoption in hopes of Mojo’s return. After 22 days, that prospect was growing dimmer by the minute. And even if he did come home the new one and the original one would have to get along. My 12-year-old Loaner is quite equable with this new presence; probably won’t be long before she starts licking his/her face.

Bijou is all black, has strong lungs while having a bath, and weighs no more than five ounces. He/she laps milk and eats soft and dry food with a will. So much life in such a little speck of fur. We are going to the vet for a checkup tomorrow.

The photo of Mojo at three months here is hurtful for me to view, but here is that rascal anyhow.

Fountain with Ancient Roman Statues in Rome, Italy

Mt. Vesuvius keeps rumbling

…..and Naples keeps growing.

I watched a pretty good movie the other evening. “Pompeii” owes all its climactic effectiveness to modern movie graphics, with gripping gladiatorial scenes. When the volcano finally erupted and sent its flying rocks and lava guts onto the populace, I remembered that I had been on top, at the very lip of the volcano.

A very long time ago, a guide drove Renato and me partway up its 4,000 feet and we walked the rest of the way. I recall peeking over the edge into its fuming caldron before the guide could stop me, and drawing back hastily from its sulphuric reek. He gave us a dramatic account of the world-famous destruction of that 79 A.D. eruption, embellishing it with overmuch relish the vulnerability of Naples, which lies in the path of a future blow. At this, Renato looked thoughtful. Naples was his hometown. His relatives live there.

Mt. Vesuvius is an active, living volcano, along with a string of other active volcanos in its subterranean path: Stromboli in the Aeolian Islands on the Tyrrhenian Sea (did you see the film “Stromboli” starring Ingrid Bergman?), Mt. Etna looming over the city of Catania in Sicily, and 27 more. Italians aren’t nervous about all that and after all, what can they do anyway?

The movie “Pompeii”? I was bemused to see Kiefer Sutherland as a Roman Senator, quite imposing in costume and ——haughty accents. The love interests almost escape but only their horse gallops onward to safety. I liked that ending.


Note about Ben Carson: California Governor Jerry Brown sends him a full compilation of scientific findings on global warming, along with comments on Carson’s ignorance.

red cat resting at the sun

Ben Carson, the man second to Trump

He seems to be the level head in contrast to The Trump’s blowhard (“I’m going to do this, I’m going to fix that, You will see a change.” Really? It’s that easy, is it?) but in Ben Carson’s quiet deliveries he proposes to bring about some pretty radical changes in our system of taxes. Tithing sounds simple: A billionaire earning $10 billion pays one billion dollars, and so on down the income line, deductions to go out the window. When we come to earners in the $100,000 range, 10% begins to sound painful. And what of someone who earns $40,000 and can barely live on it? Coughing up $4,000 on that base would be very very hard if not impossible.

And this: Ben Carson scoffs at the notion of climate change. A scientist himself, he states there is no scientific evidence to support that. The world’s scientists are clanging the alarm bell and he says they have no basis for climate change? Are his fans even listening to Ben Carson as they howl and cheer his candidacy?

…..No, Mojo has not returned. In our days of high heat, 107 in some areas and no water, I fear he would not survive even if he lived. My little shortstop, who never missed a yarn ball on the fly, may be no more.



The last contact I had with him occurred at 1:25 a.m. Saturday when he bounced onto my bed, meowed, and took off again. He is a world traveler, or thinks he is, and at one year he has been ranging farther and farther from home. He will slip outside behind me whenever I go to fetch the morning paper and I have seen him running back to me from across the street. Then there is the cat door leading to the deck and backyard leading to fences leading to other spaces.

There are predators in these hills, bobcats and foxes and coyotes and even raptors from above. There are the usual cars and loose neighborhood dogs.
I knew all this, yet I could no more confine this pussycat spirit than I would have a mountain lion, which also roam hereabouts. Mojo is unlike my big girl Loaner, who is content to remain indoors sleeping or lying in the sun near the lemon tree much as my lost Pinky and Tango used to do. Mojo is Mojo.

I am struggling to speak of him in the present tense though my heart knows otherwise. There is small hope any of the posters I have put up in the neighborhood or the Lost Kitty message on Nextdoor.com, our online network, will produce any results. Why do I continue to seek a broken heart with each new pussycat entity?

Will there be no more toss-and-catch games with his yarn ball? He has brought me gifts in early mornings and I have always been leery of what my hand may encounter when I grope for it in the dark. So far, only pebbles or bark or a large leaf. He has tried to bring in a long stick through the cart door and needed help with it. Like any juvenile, his boisterous play with Loaner has not always been met with appreciation but she always came around. Their naps head to head have made me smile. Humans who have cat companions understand the odd warmth engendered by such a sight.

My chronicle “Mojo’s Way” tells of his beginnings with me and I am so afraid there will be no more to add.