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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Amber Goes to Kat Show

Cat Amber Big Chair 

Well, today has really been something. The servants took me to a cat show. It was right next door, so I agreed to go even though I disapprove of this sort of thing.

The grooming displays were interesting.


There were lots of other accessories as well. They bought me a new cat bed, which I will probably never use, but whatever.

When we were done shopping we took a look around. It was weird. There were all kinds of kats, but no Scottish Folds, of course. A Scot would never participate in one of these things. Here’s one I saw. No idea what breed.


The contestants were constantly being fussed with.

Some of them were totally weird. Just look at this guy. 

Kats in cages . . . Like I said, I’m totally against these shows. For one thing there’s the privacy issue. Strangers everywhere gawking at you. A few of the contestants were given some bathroom privacy, but not many.


And the inspections they were forced to endure . . .  Unbelievable. 
Just look at this. I was embarrassed to be there!


This is what it was all about . . . these stupid metal things. 
I guess you’re supposed to eat out of them, or maybe they hold water.

Humans are nuts!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Favorite Seamus Heaney


When all the others were away at Mass

When all the others were away at Mass

I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.

They broke the silence, let fall one by one

Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:

Cold comforts set between us, things to share

Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.

And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes

From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.

So while the parish priest at her bedside

Went hammer and tongs at prayers for the dying

And some were responding and some crying

I remembered her head bent towards my head,

Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives –

Never closer the whole rest of our lives.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Observing Sweden - Culture Shock 3

A Family Affair

            I’ve always had a kind of fear of family, moved as far away from mine as possible as soon as I was able. I was over loved. Mom should have had at least three kids to keep her busy. I was an only child and fairly smothered with her love. I looked at family as a strong, controlling aspect . . . which it is . . . or was. Both mom and dad long gone now. No blood relatives except my daughter, who I love, but barely know . . . She’s looking good, at forty-seven now, two grand-kids, one I’ve never seen. Where does the time go?  Got her act together . . . smart, well married. Mom moved many miles away when she was two.

            I thought there would be time to get to know her . . .  in her twenties maybe, but by then it was too late, of course.


           There seems to be a tight cohesiveness in Sweden, brothers, sisters, cousins. My new family all live fifteen minutes off from one other, or across the street . . . down a few houses.  Wife and I are less than twenty minutes from the farthest. One set of Swedish grandparents live an hour or so away, but are soon moving closer. Family’s very there for one another, giving one a feeling of security. If you need help . . . new thing for me. There have been frequent visits, sons of sons, grandsons and daughters, wives and husbands . . . keep in constant touch with cell phones, texting, sms’s . . . Facebook! Almost tribal . . . digital drums, “I’m at the bank now.” 

            I am coming from the States, and fourteen years of maybe one visit a month. Before that, twenty years no visits. As a classic introvert, this was no problem . . . writers will be quick to understand.  Wife’s family now mine in Sweden, and another major change, but nice. A good move—these advancing years. . . .

Observing Sweden – minor details
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bumper sticker here. Amazing.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Still cleaning out My Docs and found this one. Can’t resist sharing with so many of you who write. No idea where this came from. Five or six years old at least.

Each year, English teachers submit their collections of actual analogies and metaphors (similes?) found in high school essays.

    1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides    gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

    2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling  

    3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked
        at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking 
        at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

    4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

   5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

  6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like…whatever.

   7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

   8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude
         shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

    9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

    10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

     11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re
           on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p. m. instead of 7:30.

   12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

   13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

    14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two
           freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19
           p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

    15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

    16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

    17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

    18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it 
            had rusted shut.

    19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

    20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

    21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

    22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame,             maybe from stepping on a land  mine or something.

    23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire   

   24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

   25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up           up.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Buckminster & Amber - Amber's Complaint

Is this, The Bucks, thing ever going to end? And booooring, such a total yawn. And bogus, I mean if you even read that kind of stuff. ‘Kat of the streets’? Get real. The closest I ever got to a street was being carried across one in the arms of a competent servant.



            I’ve been more than patient, really. Part 8 coming up? I’m being cut off from my followers. It’s not that I don’t understand the fantasies he writes. It’s hard to be macho with a name like that, Buckminster . . . And it fits. He’s such a total pussy . . . cute, I must admit. Cuter than me, and that’s a lot of cute . . . well, I don’t need to tell you. 

            Sometimes I think Bucks is gay . . . Whatever. I don’t care . . . except this stupid endless story he’s been making up. It’s true, he was a painter, more or less unknown of course, and gayer than a pink flamingo. Paris was lifetimes ago, and not at all like he’s telling it . . . this said in case of the unlikely chance you’re reading it. I can’t imagine why anyone would be reading it, but whatever.

            I complained to the servants and have been given an hour of computer time this week. You wise kats will be happy to learn I’m thinking of something intellectual, perhaps a monolog on 20th century painters . . . a Swede . . . maybe a Russian.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Buckminster & Amber - The Bucks - Part 7

The Bucks
             “. . . . Not good,” Buckminster told her. 
             “So, you know him?” Ambette asked.
            “I know about him. Mandu was hit man for Chairman Meow . . . there was a triple murder in the Forbidden City, some kind of Triad thing. He took the fall for it and got 3o years in Kowloon Prison, but escaped . . . came here and has been working freelance for the gambling syndicate.”
            “Oh, Bucks, what can we do?”
            “What can we do? Have you got a mouse in your pocket?”
            “You’ve got to help me, Bucks. There’s no one else.”
            A tear rolled down her cheek and dangled precariously on the end of a whisker.
He was always a sucker for feminine tears, but Mandu was big, ten kilos of bad news. In the end it didn’t matter. Bucks had more guts than a government mule and had never refused a female in distress. But this. . . .
            What could he do?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Observing Sweden - Weather Report - September

Weather Report


These foggy mornings

Harbingers of what’s to come

End of this perfect Swedish summer

Beauty changes

I await the snow

More eagerly than recommended.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Buckminster & Amber - The Bucks - Part 6

It was raining in Paris. It was always raining that year, but The Bucks was cozy inside the loft. Life was good, there were enough sardines to last a year, and more milk than a New Jersey dairy farm. 

He was awakened from a well deserved nap by violent scratching at the door.

The Bucks Awakened From His Nap.

            Ambette’s coat was soggy wet. Colors were running, and her once much cared for tail was a tangled mess. She reeked of absinth.

            “Bucks, you’ve got to help me. I’ve been such a fool.”

            “You’re not a bad kat,” he consoled her. “Foolish, yes. Naive perhaps. What’s going on?”

            “I’m in big trouble,” she meowed. “I don’t know where should I begin.”

            “At the beginning,” he suggested as he poured a bowl of warm milk for her.

            “I’ve been gambling,” she admitted. The Count and I have been going to the rat races and I bet everything I had on a big Norwegian Tolstoy said was sure to win. I wagered more that what I had, I mean, like it was supposed to be a sure thing and . . .

            “You lost . . .” Bucks groomed his paws and waited for her story to continue.

            “I thought the Count would help me pay, but he’s abandoned me for some Siamese pussy he met at Theater de Varieties. I’m down to my last sardine and an enforcer from the gambling syndicate is on my tail. The syndicate wants to katnap me to hold for ransom. If no one is willing to pay they plan to put me in an obscure cathouse in the Quartier Pigalle. Oh, Bucks . . . I don’t know what to do.”

            “Umm. Do you know who it is, this kat that’s on your tail?”

            “His name’s Mandu,” she told him.

            “Kat Mandu?” he asked her with a flick of his elegant tail. This was not good.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Observing Sweden – Culture Shock 2 Language


I’m sure there are many variations of the expatriate trip . . . this loss of place. There is a feeling of powerless, not oppressed, but not easy. A loss of control and understanding.

Language is such a big part of adjusting. I thought the language schools (12 weeks – free) would open for me this September. Wrong. The classes have been filled with Somalis. The Swedish government reversed its position requiring immigrants to have valid identification papers. Lots of Somalis don’t have papers. Now DNA tests are accepted – giving families the ability to import relatives. Hard to find out how many, have come so far. I think around 2000. Incomers have zero skills. We will support them, extra money for each kid (locals get credit for the first only), and hopefully teach them how to add and subtract. 


Then they can go out and learn how hard it is to find jobs in Borlänge . . . this small town of (40,000). After they get tired of being unemployed they can go to Stockholm and riot, demanding jobs. Seems like I see them everywhere, or maybe they just show up, stand out in a crowd – those brightly colored, flowing outfits. What a culture shock Sweden must be for them. It gets cold here. The city has asked for 15 million dollars (100,000 kronor) to help with expenses.


There is another, private language class that will begin soon—if the teacher attracts one more student. I will have to pay, of course. A good possibility, but I’m not holding my breath. Even the finding of a class is beyond my ken. When things get complicated, you need to be able to converse in Swedish. I have most of Rosetta Stone-Sweden, but no idea what happen to the missing disks. So many things have magically disappeared with this move. They often reappear shortly after we buy replacements. Other items long forgotten, and unseen for years appear unexpectedly, like Moby Dick.

My doctor speaks adequate English, but I’m not really sure she understands what I say. 



If you get seriously sick here, and or want help NOW, you go to a private doctor – expensive. You get to pay twice. Socialism is tricky. All political systems are tricky . . .  one thing in common, the working class always pays.

Socialism costs more than I thought.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Career Move

        A poet died. His name was Seamus Heaney, prize winner – a Pulitzer. Somehow I’ve never heard of him. True for the vast majority of us, I think. We don’t read poets on a daily basis. Pulitzer winners seem far away, residing in a rarefied, intellectual stratosphere . . . almost foreboding . . . distant. Unfamiliar. Now he’s dead, we see him everywhere, on TV news, the Internet and Facebook. Who’s not heard his name this week? Been curious enough to Google? Did you watch him read on your computer? You can’t buy publicity like this. He’s everywhere – gained international attention. Poet’s words now part of every day. Such potent and yet subtle images. I’m thinking . Wow. He’s really good, these profound, simple wisdoms, written as though without effort.

        Damn, I’m sorry he is dead. But were he not, quite possibly I would have never read his work.

Death is the greatest of career moves. But I plan to wait before I make my own.