Tango, a most amiable cat

Tango is large and rangy, with legs like a jack rabbit’s. Her coat is a deep orange with white belly and socks. Her voice squeezes out like this: EEUH, and sounds sad. I try to speak as she does and am rewarded by a startled look. She is also scared, affectionate, and needful. Despite her avoidance of the mole conclave that day by the lemon tree, she has followed the trail to the pet door.

Her appetite is bottomless. I am now purchasing two sacks of cat chow at a time. Of all the chairs there are in the house, she likes to lie on mine at the dining table. When having my breakfast, I must sit on the edge, often on her feet, which she likes. I reach behind and find a nose, a paw, and always a tongue. Even after weeks, she is uncertain of her welcome. She has been sensing my own uncertainty about having her as a frequent visitor, and I know I send out conflicting signals.

I am afraid Pinky might be feeling crowded. Between Tango and Au Au they clean out the food dish, leaving nothing for Pinky. The private food stash in the bedroom is no longer a secret. At night I awaken to crunching noises, Tango’s always louder than Au Au’s. Loaner, having once caught her tail in the pet door, enters the house only if the big door is open. Pinky does not get between the large cats and their food, and she grows so hungry that she has started waking me up at 5:30 for her breakfast. I pull the covers over my head but she is relentless, marching up and down my body, until I surrender at about 6:00.

After she eats, I have my own breakfast, and blearily read the newspaper, unless Tango is sitting on it and rubbing her face against mine. She likes to sample everything I drink, even my tea. Another time, she dipped a paw into my wine and had herself a drop or two. And she is the only cat who will drink from the dish of water I keep next to the food dish. The others go outside to the bird bath, which I must scrub every day.

Tango wishes she had fingers, I know. Her efforts to pick up objects of interest with her paw are futile, and so I help her. I feed her the pumpkin seeds she wants, one at a time, she chomping industriously. Then I discover a small pile of them on my lap. She had been spitting them out of the side of her mouth.

My Little Grass Shack

Yesterday we, the Trinity Troubadours, performed for the senior residents of Lake Park with a mixture of piano, flute, guitar, accordion and ukulele. Having taken up the ukulele only a couple of months ago, I practiced assiduously up to the time of the performance. Another newby, Dick Peters did the same. We sat beside each other in the back, thankfully.

We did pretty well up till one song that had so many chord changes so fast that I had to fake it, and then I noticed Dick was doing the same. He saw me looking over at him and we both collapsed in hysterics. I haven’t laughed that hard since high school.

My system must have created a zillion endorphins.


When Renato could tear himself away for a vacation, we embarked on a trip that, initially, seemed to be mostly in the air. We flew from Rio de Janeiro to Santiago, Chile, which had recently undergone a revolution. Our experience of it involved shortages of consumer goods, mainly cigarettes. Renato gave our waiter a couple and the man rushed outside to smoke them.

We toured their museum with the guidance of a man who offered his services outside the door. He said “Yes,” with a slow, thoughtful cadence, and it turned out that was the sole, single English word he knew.

Next, we flew to Easter Island, where we met that lovelorn woman who asked me to mail a letter to her lover. I have mentioned her before. The flight had arrived late and so we had no time to look at the giant stone heads. Then, on to Tahiti, where we stayed at a hotel near the clear, transparent water. We rented a car and went about the country roads lined with coconut palms and mango trees. Fallen fruit lay on the roadsides. What riches! I gathered armfuls of mangos and lugged them back to our hotel but had to leave them when we flew on to Honolulu.

I recall a gentle, salubrious air in Tahiti and a quiet like no other, and the tuna at an outdoor barbecue. That fish was five feet long and three feet thick. The women looked just like Gauguin’s portraits of them. We were outside a church when service ended and people began to exit the church. Every woman wore a big white flowered hat. I saw a breadfruit tree and longed to pick one.



Why they voted for Trump

At lunch with a woman recently, our conversation acted like a lightning bolt in my brain. I learned why evangelical Christians voted for Trump.

A progressive Jew, the woman told me that her son had converted to Christianity and not only that, but as an evangelical Christian. Her son told her that, as such, the candidate for the presidency might well be Micky Mouse as long as he was Republican. Evangelical Christians are against abortion. Period.

Not only that, they hate the LGBTQ culture and look to the Republican party to suppress it. Which they have done. And some of Planned Parenthood’s facilities have been closed.

Trump may indulge his idiocies as much as he wants; he is just a figurehead for the party.

How wolves evolved into dogs

I attended a lecture yesterday about wolves evolving into man’s best friend and came away bemused about the accommodations nature makes to this planet. We know all about its savagery.

I learned: That a few wolves 14,000 years ago (doesn’t seem too long ago) began sidling up to man’s encampments for food handouts. The descendants of these wolves became friendlier and friendlier and began to change into dogs. The lecturer didn’t say, but I imagine their changed appearances depended on climate and conditions.

I learned, and this blows me away. It doesn’t have anything to do with wolves or dogs: That Neanderthal Man became extinct because they practiced cannibalism, which caused Mad Cow Disease. Apparently, MCD in England came about because cattle was being fed ground beef. I know I know. I am still absorbing this.

I learned: We are no longer homo sapiens but Homo Sapiens Sapiens, having left the former behind in the evolutionary process.

I admit it is kind of hard to understand that a friend’s bichon frisee, that curly little bundle, used to be a wolf. The lecturer didn’t mention how cats evolved from lions  or tigers. It’s a thought, isn’t it?

From “Meow’s Way,” more gifts

Her gifts also are delivered to my bed. At 10:30 p.m. she explodes onto the bed with a mouse. It is wounded, and I go to the kitchen to fetch an oven mitt. Out the door with the mouse. At 2:30 a.m., she flies up with another. I switch on the light in time to see it get away from her. I bolt out of bed and in the next fifteen minutes we chase it around the room. I yell, over here! Under the chair! Behind the cushion! I am not thinking of what the neighbors might be thinking.

The mouse shows its stuff. Every time Pinky closes in it leaps, squeaking, several inches in the air. Then it is gone behind my dressing table.

Resigned, I pull the heavy dresser out. Pinky and my stick get in each other’s way as I sweep. The mouse comes out, and disappears again, either back inside or somewhere else. At any rate, Pinky gallops up the hall in pursuit.

Apparently it is still in the house. She spends hours guarding the dresser. I think she expects me to take up sentry duty when she has to go outside. While I am in the office, no doubt she believes I am guarding the lizard hiding in the bookshelves.

Loaner once announced a gift of hers by calling from the outside, though the patio door was open. Her small voice probably traveled no more than five feet, yet I heard her and went to see. Lying on the mat was a full-sized rat, its bared incisors frightening in their length. I admired Loaner’s delicacy in bringing it no farther into the house and duly made a fuss over her. Satisfied she had pleased me, she came inside, leaving the rat, and watched TV with me.

Third Place winner Worcester litfest contest

Fiction – 295 words


I like my job. I like meeting the new ones who come here. It’s not hard to figure out how they are feeling, sad or hopeful or scared or resigned to move to this senior residential community. I figure if anybody was in a position to do something about it, it’s me. They need me for so many things and I always deliver. It’s not just about being a handyman setting up their TVs or whatever it is that comes up. I’m near retirement myself and I listen with my heart and I follow up on what I hear. They offer a lot of entertainment events in this place. There are movies and exercise classes and they bring in singers and jazz combos. I see the old ones nodding in time with the music. Some of them are asleep. There’s a lot to do if you’re up for it, but it can drag on and the years get to be too much.

The latest one to arrive was so crushed she may as well have been crying out for me. Her daughter didn’t look so good, either, but she went on in a grim sort of way signing papers in the marketing office while I was fixing the copy machine. I’ve seen this before. Sometimes it takes months or years and I can tell when it’s time. My instincts were right when Mabel said “Thank you” and closed her eyes. And again it felt right when Sarah held my hand with a look of relief pasted on her 100-year-old face. And there was grizzled old John, finishing up his fifteenth year in this place, who said “Go to it man. I’m ready.”

Like I say, I’m more than a handyman. I am really being helpful. ###