Cats are special hoomans

I returned from a five-day stay at the hospital and could not Wait to see Loaner and Bijou. As soon as I stepped into the house I called, and here they came to greet me. They were none the worse for wear without me but I think they missed me.
I couldn’t complete the course of treatment for Bijou’s right eye where a foxtail had found a home, but it looks alright to me. Foxtails are a regular menace to animals in the summer. They work into eyes, ears and noses.

So many things to do — copy machine out of order, DMV smog test due, one toilet tank broken inside. Sigh.

It’s Mojo at three months in the photo. He didn’t come home 11 months ago. Heartbreaking? Absolutely.


Glen Campbell’s life in “I’ll Be Me”

Watching the unwinding of his life, I realized I had not appreciated enough his marvelous voice and talent. He had a TV show while I was living in Brazil, and I missed much by not being able to see it.

The progression of Alzeimher’s in this gracious man is depicted unflinchingly and at first I wondered why his family would expose him to such public view, and then I understood there was a poignance in sharing him with his multitude of admirers, giving them this last chance to see and enjoy him. And he still delivered magnificently on stage despite some faltering. The music is embedded in the man as it is in his guitar-plucking fingers.

His wife mostly recounts the documentary and she too maintains the honest tone of Glen’s story. His sons and daughter play in the band and there is an exhilarating riff of the two of them in a guitar/banjo duel.

Show biz as displayed here was a true treat.

Down south, in Sicily

I was 18 years old, an Italian citizen in Italy, and yet a refugee from communist China. My Italian father, dying of heart failure, had been born in China and this was his first visit to Italy. My Chinese mother had never even dreamed she would ever leave her country. Fresh off the ship with no money and nowhere to live, we were shuttled off to Catania, Sicily and placed in a school that was half buried in rubble. As you might imagine, my novel Journey from Shanghai was fueled by this period of our lives.

There was my sister Maria, 11 years older, and the only one of us who was able to assess our situation and plan a course of action. She isn’t here anymore, but we sometimes shared a laugh over this particular episode:

A cub reporter by name of Totuccio Biondi interviewed us on arrival and returned the next day to ask me out. Hoping for a meal not consisting of bread and tomatoes I consented with alacrity. Totuccio then took me walking, and walking, and walking. He pointed out the imperial palace, damaged by Allied bombing, the interior of the opera house designed by Bellini and sumptuous in crimson velvet drapery, and next he walked us past the movie theater whose marquee advertised “The Yanks are Coming” starring Steve Cochran. All the while, the volcano Mt. Etna fumed over our heads.

By now I was faint from hunger and at last he did buy me an ice cream though not for himself. Our date over, Totuccio delivered me to the broken gates of the camp.

Next day I went out to draw water from the communal pump, and a Sicilian woman, one of entire families who lived in the camp, pointed at me and called me a putana.
She was joined by another woman who shook her head and told me I should be ashamed.

All was explained later by a third woman who told me I should not have gone out alone, unchaperoned, with a man. This lady had lived in Naples, in the NORTH, and understood that foreigners could be ignorant of Sicilian custom.

A few months later, after we had found an apartment in Rome, I received a letter from Totuccio. He addressed me as his fidanzata (fiancee). That figured. He knew the rules, I hadn’t, and the sly little skunk asked me out regardless. He never did come to Rome to claim his bride.

The wolf Legend of Rome

Following up on my blog on Harambe, the hapless gorilla who lost his life because he was in captivity, I hark back to Rome, where I lived five years after my exile from Shanghai by the communists.

Among the myriad sights to see in the history-rich sprawl of Rome was the monument to Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of united Italy. The gigantic edifice of white marble (dubbed the Wedding Cake by Allied troops in WWII) loomed over the fevered traffic whizzing around Piazza Venezia where a traffic cop, mounted on a pedestal in the center, whirled his arms this way and that and seemed to me always in danger of falling off and disappearing under the vehicles he sought to control.

According to the Legend, twin brothers Romulus and Remus were sired by Mars, abandoned by their mother, and were rescued by a wolf who suckled and raised them. In a familiar theme, Romulus slew his brother Remus, and went on to found Rome.

To pay homage to this legend, the Prefecture of Rome elected to imprison a wolf in a dank cage under the marble pile of Monumento Vittorio Emanuele II. I used to stand in front of the bars and peer into the depths of the gloom, not certain if I could actually see a living form inside. I can’t remember if I ever did, and hope there never was a wolf trapped in the tomb.

Gorilla in a tight concrete enclosure, wolf inside a marble prison — the list of glorious human exploits get long.

The case of Harambe

The furor over the shooting of Harambe has resounded worldwide. My friend Ana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is outraged, and humankind is once again reminded of the plight of wild animals held in zoos or worse, in tight indoor cages. We lament Harambe’s loss of his own habitat, and then we lament further at his death by gunfire. We have come a long way (except for China, Vietnam, Thailand, and South Korea) because:

If you only thought back 60 or 70 years and longer than that you would be truly horrified at the brutal treatment we handed out to wildlife which we did not believe had much feelings or intelligence beyond their natural instincts. I think of a gorilla I watched sitting behind bars in a concrete enclosure measuring 10×10 feet in Central Park, New York City. He (and I assume it was a male) leaned on one hand and with the other picked at insects creeping across the floor. He drooled as he bent his head, and there was absolutely nothing…nothing…no one…for him to do or see or communicate with. That was 40 years ago, and that gorilla had to have, thankfully for him, died well before now.

I think of Ernest Hemingway, that guts and glory writer whose hobby was shooting large wild animals and being photographed beside their corpses. He was a good writer, and I enjoyed his journals for the Toronto Star, and I know his kind would be badly out of step with our perceptions today.

And I think of Donald Trump, who thinks it is wrong of Ringling Bros., at the behest of animal rights petitioners, to retire their elephants. If Trump only knew. He, as well as his two sons, is as clueless as Hemingway would have been in our present world.

There is nothing more to say.