Sunday, January 30, 2011

No News Is Bad News

We've been heading in this direction for some time. At 8:00 this morning, the newspaper delivery person tossed a two-pound package in the general direction of the house. I took the parcel out of its two plastic bags and prepared to sort out the readable parts of the San Francisco Chronicle, only to find that there were none. The entire package was advertising sheets and circulars.

As the scene grows darker for print media, the Chronicle has resorted to more and more advertising gimmicks: An advertisement page with the newspaper's logo at the top which obscures a third of the real front page. Various ad pages which protrude from the papers ever-slimmer news sections. Inserts made of stiff paper so that the reader cannot turn the page. And of course column after column of screaming commercial messages, more of them when there is a holiday coming up. (In this case, the Super Bowl--that's football for those of you who do not follow sports-- is next Sunday, and much of the advertising has to do with television sets or what is now being called Home Entertainment Systems.)

There was a time when the Knoxville News-Sentinel had a strict policy that no more than one third of the newspaper could contain advertising. But that was when more people wrote for and read newspapers. It's sad.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Cat Mystery

Our beautiful gray tortoiseshell cat Mimi died November 13th, and the only thing mysterious about her demise was how well she hid the fact that she had at least three life-threatening conditions while continuing to eat, listen to music, play with her catnip mouse, all the things she liked to do.

We put her body in a plastic box and buried her up in the corner of the yard I like to watch when I am pondering. We put all her toys in the grave as if she were a pharaoh and might need them. We tossed her comb and food dish and scattered her kibble in the back yard, where the neighbor’s dog promptly scarfed it up, looking about furtively for the huge cat which once chased him away.

I had one dream of her, a silent dream, where Mimi was running up the driveway, south, as fast as she could go.

The mystery is what became of all the cat hair. She had a luxurious coat which shed everywhere, floated in the air, worked its way into the carpet, stuck to the stove, adorned all our clothing, collected in the corners behind the furniture. The day after we buried her, all the cat hair mysteriously disappeared. I thought I would use her brush for my hair as a kind of legacy from her, but when I washed the brush, only lint came out; no cat hair. Our black clothing, once richly enhanced with pale gray fur, no longer had a single trace of cat hair.

Some of this might be explained by the heavy-duty air filter on the furnace, at least the floating and pooling hair bits. But what could get the hair off our fleeces, coats and sweaters when energetic efforts with brushes, vacuums and sticky tape would never quite do it?

Nicodemus says she took it all with her.

(Smiling Mimi card by Christine and Jordan Hosfeldt)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Epiphany 2011

In the darkness out there,

the lights are little worlds:

Headlights of the workers driving north,

miners’ lamps up on the mountain,

the blinking of an airplane, eastward bound,

the corona of a yellow street lamp.

Out on the water, there is a moving light

from a crab boat heading out before dawn.

If there are stars about,

they are hidden by fog

and the moon is nowhere to be seen.

Here inside where love has been

severely battered,

one lone candle flickers.