Iron Chef Parody Activity

Last week, a handful of grade 5’s turned an assignment I gave them during online school called “Iron Chef Parody.” Today was the day I sat down to mark them all. Not many of them participated but the ones that did knocked it out of the park! They did so good and totally made my day! I wish I could show you their parodies but I’m not allowed 😦

BUUUUUUT I can share the activity.

It’s broken up into two parts. Part 1 is a simple way to help the kids get a grasp of what is happening in the show so they can ham it up. Part 2 is the actual creation of the parody. It was a great way to get to know the families better and some of them came up with ideas that I never would’ve thought of. This would be a good activity to do in the winter during quarantine.

This activity would fulfill the Saskatchewan Arts Ed Curriculum CP 5.4 I can create a drama using pop culture as inspiration.

Iron chef parody: Pt. One

A parody is when an artist makes a spoof or something silly out of another artist’s work. We are going to make a parody out of the show, Iron Chef, but first we need to get familiar with the show. It began in Japan before it got popular in America. Two talented chefs compete to create a full-course meal in under an hour. They must use the “secret ingredient” that’s only revealed at the beginning of the show. Judges would taste test at the end and vote for who was the best.

Please watch at least ONE of the episodes below and answer the questions below:

a) What did you notice the chefs doing? Describe some of their actions and behaviours.

b) Make a list of everything you see in the kitchen (at least 10 items).

c) Other than the chefs, who were the other characters?

d) What are some challenges or problems the chefs face?

Iron Chef Black Pig Battle
Iron Chef America S01 Ep01: Flay vs. Bayless

iron chef parody: pt. two

*SUPERVISION REQUIRED*

Now that you have completed part one, we can create!

1. GIVE yourself an Iron Chef name (Favourite food + Favourite kitchen utensil).

2. FIND one friend/family member/pet/stuffie/toy to compete against you as another chef.

3. ASK a family member to supervise and hold the camera.

4. Your secret ingredients are TUNA and CHOCOLATE. You can switch them up to whatever you think is the most disgusting combination. I also suggested hummus + chocolate, salsa + chocolate, garlic + chocolate.

5. THINK of a dish you could create that would include these two ingredients. Start PLANNING!

6. GRAB your supplies (ie. kitchen bowls and utensils) and all the food you’ll need. Don’t forget a cell phone or laptop that you can use to film the next part!

7. CREATE it! Please FILM your creation process!

8. ASK someone (ie. family member, friend, pet, stuffie or a toy) to be a judge and give feedback.

9. POST your Iron Chef “film” in Google classroom.

IMPORTANT NOTES:

a) Your “episode” should be 2-10 minutes long (you can go longer if needed).

b) YOU CANNOT SEPARATE THE INGREDIENTS INTO TWO DIFFERENT DISHES. THE FLAVOURS MUST BE TOGETHER IN THE SAME SPOONFUL.

c) This project is best done with family or friends as it will require teamwork and planning. 😉

d) Even though we are making a spoof or parody out of a show that originated in Japan, please don’t make fun of the Japanese culture. Speak like you normally would and don’t alter anything about your appearance, except to add a chef outfit (if you choose to use one).

e) Your creation should be gross but as the Iron Chef, you must be proud of your creation and think you are the BOMB!

f) Every potty joke you make = how many bites of your creation you must eat.

g) YOU MAY ONLY DO THIS ACTIVITY IF YOU HAVE ADULT SUPERVISION.

h) You will be evaluated on your improvising/acting as the Iron Chef. You won’t be evaluated for the presentation of your “tasty creation.”

Have fun!

THAT One: A List of Good Documentaries

Here are a couple of documentaries I’ve watched recently and would highly recommend if you’re looking for something good. You can watch them for free with your library card through the Kanopy app or website (www.kanopy.com)

5 broken cameras (2011)

Directed by: Emad Burnat; ‎Guy Davidi

The entire film is shot by a farmer, Emad Burnat, who is witnessing and partaking in protests in his village Bil’in, Gaza. All the footage was taken from the five cameras Emad used and were damaged throughout the process. From what I understand, the town is fighting back against gentrification from the Israelis but I don’t think they use that word. They call it something else but I recognized it as gentrification. Anyway, what struck me about the film was how normal the fighting became. Gunshots were normal and the children played near it without worry. How determined the community was and didn’t give up in spite of the cruelty they faced. I’ve never seen community like that and admired the way they pulled together. It’s a bit slow moving but I was captivated by all the beauty that Emad was able to find in his family, even in the midst of violence.The other thing that struck me was the way the movie was kind of a joint venture between the Israelis and the Muslims. Which I always thought that relationship was very tense. But it looks like the making of the film (or at least the post-production of it) was a reconciliation. Perhaps. I mean, I don’t know but the credits included a lot of Israeli people and organizations but the filmmaker is Muslim. I’d love to pick their brain about how that process was and what happened to make them join forces together.

Anyway, this is kind of a disjointed review but it was unique, especially the process in which it was created.

95 and 6 more to go (2016)

Director: Kimi Takesue

The summary sorta described the film as sort of a grandfather helping his granddaughter write her romantic screenplay and offering advice along the way. Or at least that was the impression I got when I began it. Which is true. There were parts where he’d read her script and give these suggestions on how to make it better and he gave some solid life advice. Gave them something to talk about. But to me, it was more of a portrait of Kimi’s grandfather, Tom. It was like a love letter but between grand-daughter and grand-father. Or maybe to her whole family in general.

Tom was in his nineties when this was filmed and his wife had recently died. The film was tranquil in many ways and showed these still shots of her grandfather’s house, cluttered with memories. When Kimi would ask him questions about how he and his wife met, he played it off as very unromantic but I don’t believe him. Because when he was trying to help Kimi write her screenplay, he would come up with all these grand gestures of love and soundtrack her movie with love songs he knew. In other footage, it would show Kimi’s grandmother and she would tell the story of how they met and he sounded so lovesick in her story. I have a theory but won’t bring it up here. Anyway, I loved how it portrayed marriage and what growing old looks like. It was charming and heartwarming in the softest of ways.

cartel land (2015)

Director: Matthew Heineman

It’s basically about vigilantes on the American side and Mexican side who are standing up against drug cartels in Mexico. It looks into why the communities are fighting back and how they rallied against them. I don’t want to give too much away because the storytelling and the way aspects of people’s characters are revealed is so brilliant. I watched it thinking this was good vs. evil but it’s really not. It’s very messy.

It was hard to watch and took me awhile to fall asleep after because of the violence. Which was never really a problem for me. I mean, I’ve watched a lot of The Walking Dead and didn’t have a problem but I did after this show. And I think it’s because this was real. The violence in it was real. The reason I decided to watch it all the way to the end is because it’s so easy to shut a program off when human suffering is too painful to watch. To close our hearts off to suffering because our hearts are already hurting. But I feel like when we do that, sometimes, we close ourselves off to empathy. Suffering either makes us very selfish and protective or it makes us more empathetic and giving. I don’t know which I am: selfish or empathetic. Probably both. But hearing this story made my world a little bigger and changed the way I prayed. It was a wake up call to something bigger than myself which is sometimes what you need when you’re having a pity party around Christmas.

red light green light (2013)

Directors: Jared and Michelle Brock

I never really had an opinion on the legalization of prostitution. University made me see the world very liberally and I guess I kind of adopted some of those ideals that a woman should be able to do what she wants with her body. If she wants to sell it, then she has the right to do it. This film made me question that… a lot.

From what I understand, the filmmakers are Christian. The film wasn’t preachy the way that most Christian films are. They never wanted to get into the debate about legalizing prostitution but they couldn’t look at sex trafficking without acknowledging it in some way. I admired the way they looked at the debate from both sides and how they genuinely had respect for everyone they met, regardless of their opinion. In spite of that, they were very focused on righteous justice. Bringing light into dark places. If I ever make a movie, I would like to do what they did. Something respectful, enlightening, justice-oriented but above all, hopeful. There was so much hope, even in the midst of heartbreaking situations.

meet the patels (2014)

Director: Geeta V. Patel, Ravi V. Patel

This doc was told by a sister-brother duo. Ravi is about to turn 30 and thinking about settling down. He turns to his Indian parents to help him find a wife in their culture’s traditional way. Geeta, Ravi’s sister, documents the whole thing.

I watched this this morning, right after I watched 95 and 6 More To Go. Where 95 softened my hardened heart, Meet the Patels filled it up again and made me want to write this list. I don’t want to give too much away because it was brilliantly told but it’s like a Bollywood-meets-Hollywood- rom-com in documentary form. So unique and so very, very funny. It shows the frustrations of dating, the beauty of marriage, family and a charming glimpse into Indian culture. I can’t recommend it enough. All the films I listed today impacted me and after each one, I was like, THAT was the best movie I’ve ever seen. Then, I’d watch another one and be like, no THAT was the best one I’ve ever seen. And since Meet the Patels was the most recent one I watched, I truly feel like THAT was the best documentary I’ve ever seen.

I mean, until the next one…

Blackout Poetry Experiment with Dickens

Thought I’d give blackout poetry a try as I’d like to do it some kids at school one day. I’m not much of a poet but it was fun to play.

DIRECTIONS:

1. Find a free book.

2. Flip to page 20 and 21 (you can pick any page but I chose those two because New Years is coming soon).

3. Find words or themes and circle them. Write them out and play with line spaces.

4. Blackout with a Sharpie the words you don’t need OR highlight the ones you do.

5. You can draw or doodle on the margins (optional).

the parlour was frightened of the quiet

the bedroom window

at rest

is feeding on the sundial

Here our house wanders and frowns

that dreadful aisle makes faces at the open door

the porch, a stray sheep, tempted to feelings of affliction bore in vain

the stairs shut up the drowsy seat with a crash

the sweet-smelling air beyond the high fence where the bolting wind rises

the winter twilight is out of breath and rests

watch her

sitting alone

cloudy eyelids thatched with

a lovely moment

friends like that

I have a friend named Amy. Amy and I are about the same age but we have different lifestyles. She is married and I am not. We met through a prayer group here in a Regina.

When Amy and I get together, our conversation starts off awkwardly. It starts off with cold small-talk. We talk about things we’re up to, about what’s happening in each other’s lives, yada yada yada. Luckily for us (because neither of us are good at small talk), the conversation veers off into what God is teaching us through his Word and what He’s doing in our lives. How he’s changing us. Amy is the kind of person who makes me want to study really lame and boring biblical text because she sees it differently. For example, I just finished the book of Leviticus because the last time I went out with Amy and her husband for brunch, she told me she was studying the book of Leviticus because her Dad was studying the book of Leviticus and he was studying the book of Leviticus because he was in a sermon series about the book of Leviticus that reveals it as a book of intimacy. A book of God’s love, not of do’s and don’t’s. So I started reading the book of Leviticus because I wanted to see if I could find evidence of God’s love and mercy the way Amy saw it. And I did. I found it after God killed Aaron’s sons for failing to follow the protocol he set out for his priests.

I know this sounds very counterintuitive because God just killed some people but He had to establish himself here. The Israelites are not listening. They are in a power struggle with Moses and they completely forgot about everything God did to get them out of slavery in Egypt (ie. parting the Red Sea, etc). So God is mad because the Israelites don’t respect him. He’s been very patient with them but they still aren’t getting the message so He has to assert himself. Which makes sense. How can we respect a God that has no standards? And if he had such high standards and didn’t follow through on the justice for breaking the law, then we certainly wouldn’t respect him because we’d think we could get away with murder and never be held accountable. But God doesn’t want to raise brats so he sets a very high standard for his people. And because the priests are the only ones permitted to come to the holiest part of his tent, the rules they follow are even stricter. So when Aaron’s sons fail to live up to those standards, even the smallest detail — just a tiny little sin, nobody’ll get hurt, just a little bit of disobedience– God follows through on what he says about being holy and kills them. And He makes this really bold statement that no sin, no matter how small, will be permitted near him or inside his tent. Because God is the creme de la creme.

Anyway, after his sons’ deaths, Aaron is not allowed to mourn (I don’t know why and I’m trying to find that out still). As a rather emotional person, I find that mind boggling and have no clue how Aaron managed that but he does and gets through it. Moses tells Aaron to eat the sin offering (a sacrifice the Israelites bring to pay for their sins; usually an animal or grain). Moses gets mad and asks Aaron why he didn’t eat the offering like he was supposed to (the priests are the only people allowed to eat the sacrifices) and Aaron asks if God would approve if ate the sin offering? How could he eat the sin offering when he’s being punished for his sin? Moses learns that Aaron disobeyed him because he didn’t want to offend God.

And it’s right here that Moses realizes that it’s working. God is changing the hearts of his people but he’s doing it in a tough-love kind of way. But what’s so cool about this part is the Lord doesn’t kill Aaron for his sin of disobedience to Moses (like He did to Aaron’s sons). I believe it’s because Aaron’s heart is more focused on pleasing God (even in his grief) than pleasing Moses. God shows mercy to Aaron. And Moses is humble enough to let God’s word be more important than his own because Moses cares more that his people love God than love him.

Also, another cool thing about the book of Leviticus is at the beginning, Moses isn’t allowed into the tent but by the book of Numbers, he’s able to enter the tent. So in the end the book of Leviticus kinda worked. A lot of animals and people had to die but eventually, the Israelites started listening to what God had to say (they screw up again later and God makes the perfect sacrifice of his Son so that everyone who believes in Jesus can enter the tent but that’s another story…).

ANYWAY, what I’m trying to say here is Amy is the kind of person who makes me want to study really boring books about God’s law so I can find God’s grace inside of it. I like talking with Amy because we can talk about the one thing that our world (should) revolve around — Jesus. Not our problems, not our losses, not other people’s weaknesses. Just Jesus.

Another example of fellowship I’ve had that’s been so bucket-filling is with Audra and Diane. We also met through a prayer group in Toronto. We’d meet to pray and then we’d sit for hours just talking and laughing. Audra and Diane are married (not to each other. They have different t husbands). Diane is a mother, Audra is not. Audra and Diane are African-Canadian/American. I am a single, white female. We grew up differently. Our worlds are different, our hair is different, our skin colour is different but when we get together to pray and talk about Jesus, we are the same. Generally, I leave our visits with a full heart because we talked about Jesus, prayed more than we complained and laughed till we cried.

The sermon today at church was the final one in a sermon series about church family. How it’s messy but worth it. And as most sermons go, I tend to self-reflect. Sometimes, too much. Anyway, I know I need to start spending time with more Christians. I would love it if I could find more women like Diane, Audra and Amy in Regina but I’m having a hard time finding women who actually want to talk about Jesus and nerd out about him. The problem isn’t the desire to join in, it’s the ‘are you safe? are you trustworthy? are you kind? are you able to listen? do you actually read the bible or do you pretend?’

I know people aren’t perfect and we hurt each other. But Christians who talk about Jesus more than they talk about people are the kinds of humans I’d like to spend time with. I want friends like that.

Whispered the Winter Wind

On the farm where Morty and Myrtle grew up, there was an old farmer who lived in a one room house. It had no inner supporting walls, not even for a toilet which stood bare in the corner of the room. There were two windows (both were very small and had a tendency to squint with sunlight rather than shine with sunlight), a musty, puke green shag carpet and dirty olive wall paper with tarnished, faux gold stripes. There was a kitchenette along the west wall and a fire stove in the northeast corner. It could’ve been a sunshine yellow at some point, but the dust and the soot made it look like a burnt corn-on-the-cob. In the living room, there was: a fraying, embroidered foot stool, a cherry wood desk covered with crusty old letters, a single bed neatly made with a thin homemade burgundy quilt and lastly, an old worn down chair with greasy spots on the arms where the farmer would wipe his fingers after eating supper. The springs in the chair were so broken that when the farmer sat, he sunk, and it was one of his favourite things. For there is nothing more comforting then sinking into the arms of something or someone you love. The farmer was a simple man and all he needed was his dog, his farm and his corn-on-the-cob wood stove. He spent his days and nights in the company of all three.

Once, he received a phone call from a salesman to ask if he had a t.v. and of course, he did not. A fire is all you need. A fire, a dog and a deep arm chair to sink in. The salesman tried to win the old farmer over to his campaign to entertain every farm in southern Saskatchewan with televisions. But the man was pushy and the farmer did not like being pushed so he hung up on the man and went back to his greasy armchair to watch his fire. It wasn’t until he went into town to drop off some mail (the mail on his cherry wood desk) at the post office, he overheard a woman telling her coworker about the family movies CBC plays on Sunday evenings.

Fam-i-ly. What a foreign word, thunk the farmer. I haven’t heard it in so long.

The old man tried to forget it because what’s the use of trying to remember something that isn’t yours. But the word stuck to him like charred cod on a cookie sheet. Stinky and stubbornly.

He’d be out in the field chasing the cattle with his old truck, yelling at the cow to moo-ve and mid-sentence, he’d remember, “Fam-i-ly.” Shake it from his head and yell some more. He’d be out by the fallen wooden post where that damn cow got out. He’d cuss and spit as he fought with that stupid post to get it back where it belonged, when he heard it again, “Fam-i-ly.” He’d blink, breathe and slide the post back into place. But the last and final time he heard it was when his beloved, old farm dog got ran over at the edge of his property. The ground was too frozen to dig a hole so he cremated the dog behind the barn and spread his ashes near his favourite tree where the two of them — the old dog and his farmer– would nap in the summer.

Fam-i-ly, whispered the winter wind that licked the rolling tear off the old man’s face.

After the cremation, the farmer couldn’t look at any sort of fire without thinking of fur. So he turned his chair to the wall and stared at it instead. But that was very “into-the-abyss-y” so he caved, called the lady at the post office and asked where he could buy a television so he could watch family movies on CBC. He went to Regina, bought it for two hundred dollars and set it up on the abyss-y wall. Most evenings but especially on Sundays, he’d grab Morty and Myrtle from the barn, bring them into the house, scratch their ears and watch the family movies on CBC just like that lady in the post office said. Myrtle remembers watching a movie about a lady who was trapped in a castle with a beast and the beast was very mean to her but then he was trying to be nice and led her to his big library. There were books and books and books and books and it took away Myrtle’s breath just like it did to the lady in the movie. And ever since then, Myrtle has wanted to live in a castle with a big library.

And this dream became a reality when Myrtle was taken in — along with her uncle Morty — to The Castle, a cat cafe in Regina.

After Heggy, the Castle’s part-time manager and full-time stylist, finished introducing himself, he appointed one of his servants to show Myrtle where she’d be staying. They said good night and Morty followed Heggy to the quarters where all the male cats slept. Heggy’s servant took Myrtle into the drawing room (which was really just a common area) that had library shelves which lined almost all of the walls.

“Pick a cubby, any cubby,” welcomed the blotchy ginger, “You can have any cubby you like except for that one.”

She pointed up and up to a cozy little cubby by the mantle of the fireplace.

“That’s the Royal Cubby and it’s reserved for the queen. It’s empty right now because we’re looking for a new queen but when the king finds her that’s where she’ll live, ” said Blotchy.

Myrtle found a spot on the top shelf, bid Blotchy adieu and retired to her cozy cubby on the top shelf. The books smelled musty like the farmer’s green shag carpet. Myrtle sighed and fell asleep with her nose stuck in the spine of a stale book.

At some point in the middle of the night, Myrtle heard the jingle of the door open and the light in the corridor shone dimly. Something was hiccuping and sniffling in the front porch. It was Susan Pettigrew, the intake volunteer of the Castle and resident cat cuddler.

A cat on the mantle saw Susan, jumped delicately down and landed softly on the carpet. He met her at the door where she promptly picked him up and snuggled him close.

“Oh Zirk, I’m so happy it’s you. I know I’m not supposed to be here in the middle of the night but, but– Eric just broke up with me!”

[TO BE CONTINUED]

Author’s Note: In the last check-in, I mentioned that the Christian writer’s job is to learn to let go and NOT manipulate the story. Just wanted to take a minute to clarify what I meant. The story I’m telling is not exactly like the King James version. I’m taking some creative liberties here so obvi the story is being manipulated. However, my goal is to touch on a couple of important themes and one is the concept of being ‘chosen.’ In order to understand the ‘specialness’ of being chosen, you kind of have to understand the opposite of it, too. Hence, the necessity of Susan’s rejection. There needs to be a contrast. The bible doesn’t need my help in telling a compelling story but I do hope these meandering backstories will help illustrate a couple of the themes I feel are important to understand Esther/Myrtle’s story better.

I’m mostly telling you this because I’m terrified of teaching this wrong and people misunderstanding what I was trying to do. Not every piece of writing demands an explanation but when it comes to the bible, I do believe being as clear as possible is important.

More Time

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Okay so I’ve tried many times this past week to write the next part of the story where Heggy teaches Myrtle dating etiquette. But the more I get into it, the more I get lost in the details and I need to take some time to plot it out. I’m finding that if I don’t plan it, I miss details and it’s very hard to fix those mistakes later. Plus, with my podcast taking off, I have a bunch of deadlines that I need to meet and it takes a lot of time to put together. Unfortunately, this means the story isn’t going to be finished by my 32nd birthday like I initially promised. I want to finish the story of Esther/Myrtle (god-willing). It’s just going to take more time than I thought.

Ugh. I hate when I don’t meet the goal I planned but I want to take my time with this and not rush it.

Thanks for your patience and I’ll keep you posted as we go!

Semi-Solved: A Mid-Story Check-In

It would be good to do a bit of a check-in. Not as Susan Pettigrew but as Bronwyn Angley. I set out to write the story of Esther/Myrtle with questions . It would be smart to write down some of what I’ve learned thus far:

  1. I’m learning what it’s like to be a Christian writer. I’ve read about other Christian authors, like Francine Rivers (Redeeming Love, a re-telling of the book of Hosea) or Hannah Hurnard (Hinds’ Feet on High Places) who describe their creative process and some of the things they struggle with as they write. Francine said after she became a Christian she couldn’t write for years and she believed it was because God had to change her from the inside out first (something to that effect… don’t quote me though). Hannah talked about her journey writing another book and how every step of the way was challenged in some form or another. Joseph Campbell (who is not Christian) and Blake Snyder (don’t know if he was or not) also talk about the emotional challenge of telling stories. How writers often have to go through some transformation of their own as they work through their characters and the plot. I don’t remember all the reasons why but it’s kind of inevitable. You can’t write from another person’s point of view without empathy so it makes sense that we would have to learn and feel what our characters do, too. In all these cases, the writer becomes an instrument of the story where he/she/they, essentially, get “used.” It’s less about us trying to manipulate the story and moreso, about us learning to let go. We have to let the story teach us something rather than the other way around. For the Christian writer, it means letting God teach us so we can explain things better. And that is easier said than done.
  2. Most of my lessons have been about shame and worth.
  3. NOTE: In comparison to the many problems of this world, mine are very small and I have way more good things to remember than bad. However, these moments shook me up at the time and shifted my point of view so I think they are worth mentioning.
  4. When I began writing the story, a thing happened online that caused a lot of conflict in a group I’m apart of. There were some tough conversations (but meaningful ones) that came out of it. I made a lot of mistakes but I learned a lot, too. One of the lessons I had to re-learn is you can’t please everyone and even if you could, they’ll likely find something to criticize about you later anyway. I learned that I need to stand my ground but have a soft heart and listen.
  5. I had a major flare-up of acne after I got home from Saskatoon. I believe it was a mix of hormones and a reaction to something I ate but after talking with a pharmacist it could be something else so I need to got to the doctor to get it checked out. Anyway, the point is I’ve never had a flare-up quite this bad and it hit my self esteem harder than I thought it would. I was reminded that I need to give as much time (if not more) to spending time in God’s word and in prayer as I do getting ready in the morning. I’m off balance in this area.
  6. I’m learning that if I have a low sense of self worth, I’ll accept poor treatment from others because I think it’s the best I can get.
  7. I’m learning how to not take things personally. I’m not good at this yet but I’m learning.
  8. I’m learning to trust God’s timing and not rush things. I’m learning to keep my eyes on Jesus, not on dudes, not on my reflection, not on my work ethic, not on my performance, not on my sins, not on others’ sins. Just Jesus.

My heart has been so restless lately. I suppose it’s because I’ve been jumping around trying to find my worth in things that offer no real sense of comfort. Tonight my heart got focused again, found a place to land and call home.

I don’t think this check-in was the thing that caused me to find home again but I do think it was the method in which I realized it.

The Den

Thursdays used to be Susan Pettigrew’s favourite day of the week because they kicked off the weekend. Fridays were for friends, games and getting dressed up. Saturdays were for sleeping in, finishing rom-coms she fell asleep to previously, shopping, working out, coffeeshops and writing stories mostly for her own enjoyment. Sundays were for church, lesson planning (Susan was a teacher), meal prep and suppers with her father. Sure, Mondays and Tuesdays were nice because they got Susan back into routine  but Wednesdays were the worst. Susan used to hate Wednesdays because they were boring and monotonous. A person has to work hard to get through a Wednesday. Her students are restless on a Wednesday and don’t stay focused. Wednesdays are long days. But then one day (probably on a Wednesday) Susan realized that in order for a Thursday to occur a Wednesday must happen first and so she didn’t mind Wednesdays any more. In fact, Wednesdays became one of her favourite days for the simple fact that they preclude a Thursday, her first favourite day.

It also helped that Wednesdays evenings was when she volunteered at The Castle and cuddled cats. That is her second reason for loving Wednesdays.

Anyway, on this particular Wednesday, the Wednesday that Susan was working at the cat cafe, a little girl and her father dropped off a box of two cats. One was patchy with grey and black spots and squiggly whiskers. His eyes were a piercing, bright yellow. The old farmer who took care of him used to say that couldn’t tell if his old cat was going to come for a cuddle or gouge his left eye out. This made him a very respectable, intimidating cat that called for the utmost respect.

Morty, said Susan, reading the cat’s collar. I like it. What about you?

The other one was fluffy with stripes and spots of orange, black, grey, white and brown. Her eyes were round with soft little eyelashes and her nose curved over her mouth like the Saskatchewan river when it splits into the north and south. It was a perfect little nose.

What a cute nose! booped Susan. Myrtle! Is that your name?! asked Susan, again peeking at the tag. Like the tree? Oh, I love that, she said. I’m so happy you’re here.

Susan scooped up both the cats and took them to a bathroom for a much needed bath. Neither Morty nor Myrtle fought Susan on this as that would not be fitting for a guest to do. Instead they stood as stoic and as sullen as Olympic athletes in fourth place.

Good sports, thought Susan as she dried them and brought warm milk to drink. It’s time for me to go, she said. It’s the end of my shift but I’ll show you to The Den.

The pair followed her into a curtained room with a fireplace, chairs, window seat, tables and shelves that were lined with just as many cats as books.

Cats, said Susan as every pair of eyes looked up. This is Morty and Myrtle. They are new here. Please be nice. You all remember what it was like to be new. It’s time for me to go home now, yawned Susan. I need to have a bath and go to bed. It’s been a long day. But tomorrow is Thursday and that is my first favourite day.

She turned off all the lights, locked the doors and went home for the night.

There was a momentary pause as the cats listened to Susan lock the door, pull out the key and crunch, crunch, crunch as she walked home in the snow. As soon as the sounds of her footsteps her too far to hear, The Castle came to life. Everyone hustled and bustled.

“Where is my lipstick?” cried the bespeckled cat.

“I can’t find my perfume!” declared another.

“Who took the comb?! I had a comb and I put it right here. Now it’s gone, ” cawed a brunette feline.

“It’s not your comb!” yelled another brunette (assumedly, the sister of the other brunette) as she scratched her back (assumedly with the comb her sister was looking for).

“Yes it is! I found it first!”

“NO. I FOUND IT AND YOU TOOK IT FROM ME!”

A sissy, cat fight ensues with claws and screeching. Some of the neutered cats huddled to watch the sparring.

“They took away our nuts but they can’t take away our entertainment,” whispered one cat to another.

“It’s better than cable,” said the other. They smirked and high-fived while the sisters hissed and spat at each other.

Nobody seemed to notice their new visitors except for an albino cat seated on an armchair. He elegantly jumped from the chair and walked through the chaos, paying no mind to the drama around him.

“Welcome to The Castle” bowed the albino, “I’m Heggy. One of the castle managers. Please pardon the others. We’re in the middle of our own Bachelor competition. The king has recently become single and the town is trying to cheer him up. We’ve got a large collection of kittens from all over Saskatchewan single and ready to mingle. I’m their part-time manager and full-time stylist,” said Heggy.

“Bachelor? You mean, like the t.v. show?” asked Morty.

“Quite,” said the albino, “Think of it as a pageant for the king. By the end, the girls get a husband and crowned Queen of The Castle. The rest of us are dirty rascals.”

“Sounds stupid,” said Myrtle. Morty shot her a look.

“I agree,” grinned the albino. “It’s quite stupid.”

“So why are you doing it?” asked Myrtle.

“There’s a cat sitting on the mantle of the fireplace. His name is Zirk and he’s our king. He’s an imperfect feline. Selfish and impulsive, gullible and takes all advice seriously, even if it’s very bad. But he’s also the best king we’ve ever had. He’s generous and makes sure that everyone, including the newbies feel welcome in The Castle. There isn’t a cat here who doesn’t love King Zirk. When he is up, we are up. When he is down, we are down. Ever since he screwed up and lost his queen by tossing her out, nothing has been the same.”

“Well if he tossed her out, then he deserves to be sad,” said Myrtle.

“Maybe for awhile,” said Heggy, “but if he stays sad for too long, then we all suffer. People start fighting, food isn’t even distributed, and the kitty litter gets messy. It’s complete chaos.”

“So you’ll demean women to make your king happy?” challenged Myrtle.

“What is demeaning about getting beauty treatments for two years* with two square meals a day and treats galore?”

*Two years in cat years is measured as two months in human years. 

“Can anyone join?” asked Morty before Myrtle could interject with some sassy quip.

“Only the most beautiful kittens,” said the albino, nodding at Myrtle.

Morty pulled Myrtle to the side, “You’re doing this.”

“You’re insane,” said Myrtle, “Absolutely not.”

“Listen to me. I’m getting old and I won’t be here forever,” said Morty, “We gotta think ahead.”

Myrtle’s eyes that were fiery with debate before dulled and she became very quiet.

“Okay,” she said.

“I’ll be right here,” said Morty “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Fabulous!” declared Heggy, “Get a good night’s sleep! Tomorrow we begin class.”

“Class?!” said Myrtle coughing up a furball, “What class?”

“Etiquette,” gulped Heggy, covering his gag reflex with a paw, “We have a lot of work to do.”

[TO BE CONTINUED]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morty and Myrtle

Morty was a hearty farm cat. He grew up chasing mice, climbing hay bales, and napping by the dugout. His parents hosted prayer and bible readings in the loft of the barn. They were Jewish (yes, cats have spiritual lives, too) and followed the teachings of the Hebrew God they loved. He protected them from disease and disaster, from extermination and the hooves of clumsy horses that didn’t know where they were stepping. Year after year, come sun, rain, flood or drought, the Hebrew God of Love provided the cats with everything they needed. Morty’s family was keenly aware of the ways God loved them and everything they did, or at least they tried to do, was meant to honour the One who cared for them the most.

All the farm animals (except the pigs who were fond of the cats because they refused to eat pork [but the cats were not fond of the pigs because they were gross]), had an opinion on how the farm cats lived and prayed. The cats didn’t like this and there was often a lot of tension, sometimes slavery and oppression but also a couple wars (that’s another story). Life on the farm, especially as a cat who loved God was very messy. For some odd reason, the God of Love remained faithful to them even though they made bad choices, complained and tried to run away from Him a lot.

Anyway, eventually all the farm animals that were enemies of the cats were slaughtered and butchered for meat so it all worked itself out in the end. Huzzah.

Moving along.

One day, a kitty by the name of Myrtle came to live with Morty on the farm. Her parents were both run over by a truck on the highway and she had no where else to go. Morty’s hooman farmer took her in when he saw her on the side of the road and brought Myrtle back to the farm. The old farmer held Morty close and asked him to take care of her. Morty agreed. She called him Uncle Morty but he loved her like a daughter.

The day the farmer died and his estate was auctioned off was the day the cats decided to move to the city. They followed their nose and a couple of the gravel roads. Eventually finding themselves in the downtown core of Regina.

“What do you think?” said Uncle Morty, “Is it everything you ever dreamed?”

“It’s very nice, but, but, but–” yawned Myrtle, “I miss the farm.”

“I know, dear.”

“I miss the hay in the loft. I miss the sky. I miss the pig slop and the ugly bull. I miss the puddles and the crows. I miss the old farmer. I even miss the mice, including the ones I killed,” she began to cry, “They were so nice, even when they were dying.”

“They were special mice.”

“Nobody here is very nice,” she said. “They keep to themselves and don’t talk a lot.”

“I’m sure there is a nice person somewhere,” said Morty.

“I’m hungry,” said Myrtle.

“I know, dear,” said Morty as his own tummy growled. “We’ll try to find some food tomorrow. It’s snowing now and we need to find a place to stay warm for the night.”

“Okay,” said Myrtle. The two of them shivered in a huddle beneath the cold light of a convenience store. Morty was half asleep when little girl plopped down beside them and opened up a bag of chips.

“Want some?” said the girl as she offered the rest of her bag chips to the kittens. Morty went first. Not because he wanted all the food but because he wasn’t sure if it was safe for Myrtle yet. He snatched a chip out of the bag and the little girl scratched his ear. Her hands were warm. Morty nodded at Myrtle to let her know it was okay to come over now.

Some man from the car in the parking lot told the little girl  to hurry up.

“I can’t just leave them like this,” she said.

He shouted something again.

“Pleeeeeease,” she said.

More shouting.

“Okay. Deal,” she replied. Scooping up the kittens in both of her arms, she drew them close to her chest and held them close. They got in the car and the little girl did not let them go the whole ride home. When they arrived home, she bathed them and gave them more milk to drink. She found a nice big box and put a ratty old blanket at the bottom.

“Smells like mothballs!!” declared Myrtle as she buried her face in the blanket and inhaled deeply, “Smells like home.”

Myrtle and Morty slept soundly in their box with a blanket.

The next morning, the little girl put a bowl of tuna sprinkled with treats into the box. After dining on all kinds of food, the kittens napped deeply. When they awoke, they were still in their box but driving again in the car. The little girl’s face red all over and she was sniffling.

“Why is she sad, Uncle Morty?” asked Myrtle.

“I don’t know, honey.”

The car stopped outside and the little girl got out carrying the box Morty and Myrtle called home for less than 12 hours. Myrtle hooked her paws over the side of the box to see what was going on. The little girl and her dad walked across the street to a little shop.

“Want me to carry that?” asked the father.

“No. I got it,” said the little girl as her nose dripped with runny snot.

“You sure?”

“Yes,” said the girl.

The father opened a little wooden door that led to a coffee shop. The little girl put the box on the floor and spoke with another lady at the counter.

Morty couldn’t help but notice all the statues of cats and pictures of pawprints on the walls. But the most disconcerting of all the things he saw were the forty or so cats staring back at him.

“What is this place?” asked Myrtle.

“I don’t–”

Before he could say another word, the little girl scooped up Morty into her arms and snuggled him so tight his eyes bulged a little. She kissed him deep on the top of his head and put him down. Then she picked up Myrtle and did the exact same thing except instead of her eyes bulging she peed a little.

“Sorry ’bout that,” said Myrtle.

The girl barely noticed and hugged her tighter.

“Bye, bye, kitties,” she said as her father smoothed his daughter’s hair and guided her to the door.

“Thanks,” said the dad to the clerk at the front desk who nodded and came around the side of the counter to welcome the new felines.

“Hello,” said the clerk, “My name is Susan Pettigrew. Welcome to The Castle!”

[TO BE CONTINUED].