THe claws of Simon

I like my cat. He is very interested in me, and the people in my family in a way that cats often are not.

He DOES nap, as cats do. But he wants to know where people are. He will position himself at the nearest window where one of us has left and keep watch at that window for a while until we return.

Not if we are gone for hours. But he’ll stay there while we take the trash out. And if he can see us, he’ll stay quite a while longer.

Atypical cat behaviour.

Also, almost every morning he will come and insist on lap sitting. He NEEDs to sit on our laps.

I usually get up first, so I get to have a purring cat on my lap as my eyes focus enough to read my facebook posts.

Then he will start to use his claws.

He has sharp claws. And he will use them NOT in a playful way, but in a “oh yeah, I have lethal weapons on my person and I am a killing machine” way.

So all of us have small wounds.

I remembered though, that we have a set of fingernail clippers. And when I remember, and catch him at the right moment, I can trim his claws.

I remembered this morning. And then I got to watch him try to scratch the couch, as his blunted lethal weapon claws skidded off the fabric.

He was confused.

I was delighted.

Good Kitty

Book report

I’ve been helping Veronica with her book report. We were working on the summary.

It’s kind of a skill to summarize the book.

We got through it. I had read the book but she explained it to me and I explained to her what main points were.

She squirmed a lot. It was tough.

How many book reports will I have to do in sixth grade?

Well Veronica, when I was in college book reports were the only thing that I did.

What?! *pause* What kind of job did you think you would get?

My kid is brilliant



Strum true

Of all the forms of art in the world, my focus has been writing. I’ve worked hard and steady on my craft, and I’m proud of what I do.

And I look around sometimes and wonder at the other possibilities. I could have focused on music, you know.

Music is magic.

It’s time based. Tempo is part of every piece of music.

It’s temporal. It lives in the time stamp. The music starts and it ends and it’s over.

But for the songs that I hear over and over, they are a time machine. Somehow, they preserve the moment when I hear the song the first several times.

I’ve had that happen to me. Even songs that I didn’t even think much of, if they were on the radio at some moment and I hear them years later


time machine

I’m back to when I heard it, awash in all the feelings. Was I crushing on someone then?  Was I broken hearted?

Now, years later, when I hear the song again, I am right there.

What other kind of art does this?

As much as I love books, that’s not my experience with books.

Music strums our hearts in fantastical ways. It’s a highly exploitable characteristic.

I know. When I played the piano for church, they taught me how to use Major 7th and minor chords to manipulate the pews.

And Madison Avenue and Hollywood have even better tools than a single spinet piano.

Sometimes I’ll hear the soundtrack swell, and my eyes will tear up and narrow at the same time. I’ll feel so betrayed, when the music swells and I am moved while at the same time I realize the story doesn’t deserve this strong of a reaction.

I can feel the music buttressing the weakness of the story itself and it WORKS to a certain level, but only skin deep.

Sincerity matters. Authenticity matters.

Don’t lie to me, music.

Songwriters and performers have a similar relationship. Songwriters have the skills to write beautiful songs, but they often need people whose skill is performing.
That same sort of betrayal can happen when performers who haven’t earned the right to sing certain songs. I think of boy bands.

And then…There are performers who take a song and make it more theirs than the initial performers.

I stumbled onto this video of two guys singing Toto’s Africa. These guys, for an audience of nearly nobody, sang the song better than the band.

I find that so much more moving than a boy band. Music will carry so much of the load, but in the end all art has to be true.


Mommy, will you come talk to me?

What do you want to talk about?

I was hoping you would choose a subject.

This is how every day ends. She wants me to entertain her. And while I might very much like to escape into TV or a book, she is asking very sweetly.

So I have to come up with a topic that my 8 year old will care about. And that I care about.

I’ve told her about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, comparing different empires through time. That led nicely to talk about the relationship between Britain and Rome, and the British Empire.

We talked about the Norman Conquest, and how our language changed after that. When she was learning about the constitution at school, we talked about the Magna Carta.

I’m winging it, with a little help from Wikipedia to remember the dates and facts.

I decided I wanted to give her a little theory. It was time to talk about how government only rules by the consent of the governed.

What if your teacher were really mean? What if she picked on you? Or WHAT IF she picked on your friend? What if she marked your homework wrong when it was really wrong?

What could you do?

Her jaw is dropped. It’s almost beyond her conception!


Veronica, you don’t have to consent to this. You can fight back! What if you talked to the other students in class, and you all agreed that none of you would turn in your homework. Because she wasn’t being fair to one person. You could make a stand and not consent to her if she was being unfair.

Mrs. Andrade would never do that. I know. But I want you to know that you have a choice. You don’t have to give consent.

But also, you may not realize it’s hard for the authority too. There are lots of ways that authorities have to adjust because they don’t get consent.

You know how Lucy Dog is? She listens to us, she consents to our rules. She is very happy.

And Simon Cat? He does not consent very well. How many times does he jump on the table? And every time we tell him no and throw him off.

He doesn’t consent to be governed by our rules.

So what do we do? If it got too bad, we would have to kick him out of our family.

But for now, we just keep kicking him off the table.

That’s what it’s like. That’s how it works inside authority. There is compromise, and no one is completely without power. And it’s important to use our power for good, and not be complacent.