Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Sweet Wee Cat

This is a recent photo of sweet Gonzo in the backyard carrot patch, pretending he's in the wilds of an exotic jungle. It's hard to believe, but if the vet's estimate is correct, "Le Gonze" has just turned 5 years old. Time does fly! Every single day I am thankful for this wonderful little life coming into our lives. He was a year and a half old when he joined the family, and the thankfulness seems mutual! :)

Best wishes from PrettyGonzo!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Poetry for Your Reading Pleasure: The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat — by Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat:
They took some honey, and plenty of money
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
    You are
    You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing!
Oh! let us be married; too long we have tarried,
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the bong-tree grows;
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood,
With a ring at the end of his nose,
    His nose,
    His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
    The moon,
    The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Illustration by Edward Lear
Today Edward Lear (1812-1888) is probably best remembered for his nonsensical poetry and prose, but he was well known in his day as a serious artist and illustrator. Supposedly he even gave Queen Victoria drawing lessons. He helped to popularize the limerick and was never above coining a phrase or inventing words (such as runcible) when the ones available to him simply would not do. The Owl and the Pussy-Cat is one of his most beloved poems. Igor Stravinsky (famous for his composition The Rite of Spring) set the poem to music in the 1960s, and it has been the basis of various songs and books, including The Quite Remarkable Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat by Eric Idle of Monty Python fame. Lear himself was an admirer of the poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Sweet Wee Cat

Anyone who shares life with a feline type knows, there's not a creature on earth more adept at getting cosy than a cat. "The Gonze" has special spots for getting especially comfortable, and he loves this spot on the parlor couch—and the very soft sheet I folded up and put on the couch just for him. :)

Best Wishes and Happy Autumn from PrettyGonzo!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

From the Photo Album: Flight 93 Memorial, 2008

Like so many people, I feel a special sense of gratitude toward those passengers and crew on United Flight 93 who somehow mustered the clarity and courage to rally against their attackers on 9/11. Theirs was a defiance both outrageous and admirable, and their leap past shock and denial to a point of unification, strategy, and action was nothing short of astonishing.

High Cross with Various Offerings
These were ordinary people suddenly caught in a horribly extraordinary event; yet, despite their fear, they refused by vote to go down without a fight. In asserting the tiny measure of freedom left to them and enlarging upon it, they not only defended freedom on a larger scale but affirmed life to the hilt.

I'm usually quite cynical when it comes to "heroes," but not in this case. I deeply honor the memory of these people, their courage, and their strength of will and spirit. Long may they roll as vital to this nation's history, respected not only by today's generations but by those to come.

Today the Flight 93 National Memorial is well underway, with Phase 1 of its construction completed. In June of 2008, when I visited the site, the facilities were temporary and much simpler. Nonetheless, I have rarely been so moved by a place.

The Temporary Memorial in June, 2008
It was deeply thought-provoking in many ways, from the sight of a distant American flag marking the crash area to tidy rows of little wooden angels that commemorated the passengers and crew. The photographs I've included here were taken that day, and I share them with the hope that anyone who has not yet visited this important memorial will put it on their list of essential travel destinations. It is definitely on my list of places to revisit in the future.

A Panoramic View Including Sitting Area & Memorial Fence

A Local Volunteer Provides Information on Flight 93 & the Site

Some of the Angels Commemorating the Passengers & Crew - Very Moving

Memorial Fence with Offerings Left by Visitors

St. Frances & Rosaries
Flags with the Cross & Field Beyond

"Teach Peace" - Digital Composition by Me with Cross Base & Offerings

I hope these images from the photo album leave you with a sincere prayer for peace in the world and for all of those people whose lives were tragically lost on 9/11. 

Very best wishes from PrettyGonzo

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Poetry for Your Reading Pleasure: Pangur Ban

Pangur Ban - Translation attributed to Robin Flowers
I and Pangur Ban, my cat,
'Tis a like task we are at;
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.
Better far than praise of men
'Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill will;
He, too, plies his simple skill.
'Tis a merry thing to see
At our task how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.
Oftentimes a mouse will stray
Into the hero Pangur's way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.
'Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
'Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.
When a mouse darts from its den.
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!
So in peace our tasks we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine, and he has his.
Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night,
Turning Darkness into light.

This ninth-century poem was written in the Reichenau Primer (aka St. Paul Irish Codex) by an Irish monk who was probably practicing his copyist skills. The monk would have been far from his native soil, most likely in a monastery on Lake Constance, and whether he was the original author is unknown. Other content in his "notebook" includes inscriptions pertaining to typical scholarly topics in the Dark Ages, such as metaphysics and logic, with an astrological table among them. The manuscript is now in the monastery of Saint Paul in Unterdrauberg, Austria.

Page of the Primer with Pangur Ban penned in, lower left
Pangur means "fuller," which was a method for treating wool, and ban means "white." If you think about these meanings, you might agree that Pangur Ban could have been another way of calling a cat Fluffy. :)

The poem came to light in the early 20th century and has since been translated from Old Irish and interpreted by a great many poets, including W.H. Auden and Frank O'Connor. Robin Flowers, whose translation I shared, chose a rhyming format that I find a lot of fun. For a great blog entry on tracking down information on the Pangur Ban manuscript, see this article by SuburbanBanshee on wordpress.

I hope you've enjoyed this lovely poem that, although written so long ago, has a special resonance for anyone who owns a cat or who loves poetry - or both!

Best wishes from PrettyGonzo! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

In Praise of Cats

By associating with the cat, one only risks becoming 
richer. — Colette

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Sweet Wee Cat Is Back!

Gonzo loves the verdant world of summertime! I certainly do envy his ability to find secret comfy hiding places in the greenery of a little urban backyard. :)

Very best wishes ... and Happy Summer ... from PrettyGonzo!