Monday, January 18, 2016

Kitty Blog #27, by Nora T. Cat

I am at my wit's end. I left a very special present for Jesse right in his room. I know he has to come home sometime. I hear his voice on the small black box and sometimes coming out of the computer. I can't see how he fits in there, or why he'd want to stay, but I know he won't stay forever. This week he asked for melawach and chicken pot pie when he comes home. After hearing that, I went downstairs to check on his special presents. I turned the corner into his room, and immediately I could see it had been STOLEN! I don't know what to do. I'd made that gift special, and placed it just so in the middle of his room. I could make another, but somehow it's just not the same. It means so much more when it's left after the person goes away. The age lets them know how long I missed them.

I'm making a list of ideas in lieu of the present. Here it is so far:

  • Ignore him (Nothing tells a human you missed them like the cold shoulder)
  • Swat at him from the bookcase or my high tunnel. (It's especially meaningful if you can hit the person's face.)
  • Bite his fingers when we tries to pet me. (Just like I used to do when my mother washed me. It shows the person s/he is family)
  • Beg for food. (This provides the opportunity for the person to apologize for leaving.)
  • Sleep on his head. (This is not my favourite, but I'm told by others it is a very effective way of letting your person know exactly where s/he belongs.)
I know with these skills, Jesse won't leave me again.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Parashat Va'eira- There is Power in You

Vayikra gam-Par'oh lachakhamim v'lamkhashpim vaya'asu gam-cheim hartumei Mitzrayim b'lahateihem kein.
And Pharaoh called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did in a like manner with their secret arts. (Shemot 7:11)
Imagine the scene- Though raised in the palace, Moshe returns as a shepherd. He with his brother, in their simple clothing, stand before Pharaoh and his court. The room is filled with Egyptian wealth and the trappings of Egypt's religion, art, statues, even the clothes are meant to stand as reminders of Pharaoh's connection to the Egyptian gods and his status as a god himself. The Israelites, a nomadic, enslaved people, have none of this. Only following our departure from Egypt do we begin to create religious art and beautiful ritual objects and clothes. Moshe and Aaron stand before Pharaoh as themselves. They are regular people. It is true they have been chosen for their roles, but for their natural human abilities. Moshe is compassionate; Aaron a good speaker. They are not professionals. They do not come from a dynasty. They have no magic skills. The miraculous moments come from God. They are not tricks or arts that have been studied and learned. On the other hand, Pharaoh, perhaps the strongest leader of his time, and a presumed god himself, has no power to perform such acts. He must surround himself with trained individuals, learned in Egyptian religion, in magic, and secrets known only to a few.
Judaism is special in this regard. Though we rely on rabbis, they are meant to be our experts and our teachers, guiding us on our own journeys into mitzvot, into t'fillah, and into Jewish life. Judaism is based upon the equality of all Jews. Just as we look to experts in other fields, we have experts in Judaism. However, these experts are not meant to create a hierarchy. Even in Temple times, Kohanim knew the mechanics of sacrifices. It was the Levi'im who knew the details of ritual, how to set up the Mikdash, and the songs recited daily. The Sages knew the teachings. The people did the rituals. Recent archeological discoveries show active synagogue life even during the Second Temple; regular Jews observing Judaism. Every Jew is equal. The learning, the mitzvot, the t'fillot are open to all Jews equally. We do not require a priest or pope to act as a go between to reach God. We merely need to open ourselves to faith and to God, and let the divine power flow through us.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Kitty Blog #26 by Gandalf The Gray

I recently read Nora's words, Taking Over. She is misinformed if she thinks she's in charge. This harping on my diet has to be stopped. I admit that I do get some yummy food, but it's for my health. And Nora does not take my food. I allow her to have some. After all, it would be very selfish of me to keep it all to myself. I get special treats and special food. Clearly our people like me better. Of course I'd appreciate it if she ate a little less. I am hungry. I never get to go out anymore, well almost never, so there's no more snacking outside.

This new food is very good. Not only is it very, very tasty, but t also helps my tummy. It used to hurt a lot. I hurt recently when my people were away. Nora and I have very nice temporary people. They took me to the doctor who said I was to have my good food all the time. That helped some. What really helped was my people coming home. The temporary people feed and play with me, but it's simply not the same as having YOUR people around.

I do not understand what gets into my people. I like going outside as much as anyone (although that big space on the front side of the house is daunting), but there's a limit to how long anyone can (or should) stay outside. They really should come home for sleeping. I can't imagine what they do without me to tuck them in and keep them warm.

Last week, after a long absence, they came home smelling of strange cats. That is simply not okay. Nora says it's the cat smells from some of the people who visit regularly. She says we shouldn't worry, that those cats have their people, but I'm still uncomfortable. Anyway, they're home now. They seem love starved, hugging and petting me. I'll just assume they've learned their lesson and give them the attention they need. I scheduled 15 minutes shoulder-sitting per person, plus chair steeling at every meal. I'll make sure they know to appreciate me. Yeah, that's the plan.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Taking Over- Kitty Blog #25 by Nora T. Cat

It's a new year, and I am simply tired of my limited access to the laptop. Here is my new year's resolution. I will no longer wait. I am queen cat, and I am taking over. This is my blog now.

Here are a few observations for 2016:

  • I have decided my people travel too often. It seems that one or more of them disappear for varying lengths of time on a regular basis. This disrupts my comfort, and will have to be dealt with. On Friday, I sat on Jennifer for 82 minutes. I believe this will remind my people to stay put.
  • Suitcases are never a good thing. I blame them for carrying my people away. Whenever they are full, the people leave. This is unacceptable. I have embarked upon a mission to convert all suitcases, bags, and duffels into kitty beds. They are warm and cozy. Tunnels can be created in the larger bags offering play spaces. I believe this mission will take time, but I know I will be successful in time.
  • Gandalf's diet keeps changing. He has wonderful new food. I decided he must share it with me. It is very good. Still, I will act aloof so my people will feel guilty and give me my own new food also.
Enough for today. It is time to sit alone and stare at my people so they feel guilty for letting Jesse leave with a suitcase. An hour should do the trick. Later I will walk across their keyboards to further show my displeasure. I am confident they will understand.

Parashat Shemot- New Years and New Adventures

V'eileh sh'mot b'nei Yisrael haba'im Mitzraima et Ya'akov ish u'veito ba'u
Now these are the names of the children of Israel who came towards Egypt with Jacob, every man with his household. (Sh'mot 1:1)
At the beginning of the book of Sh'mot, the children of Israel are embarking on a new adventure. They are entering a new stage of life. How appropriate it is that we are reading this chapter in the first week of a new year being celebrated around the world. The past year has been one of difficulties and joys. Our world has seen many changes. Many of us worry about what may be coming for the future. We worry about the world we have created for ourselves, for our children, for our grandchildren, and for generations to come.
During the past year, and even now, I find myself thinking back to my own teenage and university years. I am sure it is partially due to my family's stage of life with two teens at home and one in university, but also in reaction to those who look back at "the good old days." I find myself wanting to quote Billy Joel, "The good old days weren't always good, and tomorrow's not as bad as it seems."[1]
I vividly remember worrying about the Cold War. We seemed on the brink of world annihilation. We hoped the "Russians loved their children too."[2] If you ever chance to visit the War Museum in Ottawa, check out the music of the Cold War. It defined my generation, and a few before me. Before that there was Vietnam and Korea. There were the wars to end all wars.
Life is different today. Gone from my heart and mind is the fear of world annihilation. Unfortunately, we have created new worries. We live with world knowledge, for good and for bad. Anything that happens anywhere can and is broadcast around the globe. Unfortunately news reporting has not changed. Scandal and horror still leads headlines. Through this, the 24-hour news cycle damages us. We are bombarded with horrors from around the world. Not only the news, but so-called entertainment. Between reality TV and dramas, we are led to believe that most people want to stab their neighbours in the back, whether figuratively or literally.
Still, positive moments, while not the choice of news sources, go viral. We seek out and share happy moments, funny quotes, anything that makes us smile or feel. While the news cycle promotes terror and egocentrism, the majority of individuals share positive and helping moments.
The world has changed. During my first trip to Israel, bombs were regularly found in garbage cans. Twenty years ago busses and pizza places were hit by terrorists with similar frequency and much greater damage. I grew up visiting New York City, a much more violent place in the 1970's and 80's. Contrary to the images broadcast to us, the world has positively evolved. We will go through difficult times. They may seem never ending. Nonetheless, we know, as we embark on our journey into Egypt, that though the future holds great difficulty, we can be sure there is a light and a path on the other end.

[1] "Keeping the Faith," by Billy Joel
[2] "Russians," by Sting