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!”








The Castle

Once upon a time, in a cat cafe not too far away, there lived a harem of felines. Felines of every shape and size. Some were spotted, some were striped, some were black and some were white. Some were male, some were female and some were just neutered (which ain’t very comfortable). The cafe was full of cats and often outnumbered the humans 50:1. It was called The Castle and it was built for cats and people who love them.

Though the cafe was technically run by humans (more on them later), the kingdom was under the reign of King Zirk. He was a handsome kitten of Persian descent with fur so soft and fluffy. Many visitors to the cafe often remarked how the hair on the crown of his head made him look like James Dean because of the way it kind of just swayed and sat there. Yes, he was so gorgeous that no feline, furry or not, could deny his charm. Thus, King Zirk was never without the company of an adoring companion and that was just the way he liked it.

A quick word on the romantic inclinations of a cat: They are not quite polygamists but they aren’t quite monogamists either. So basically they do what they like when they like it and this applies to all areas of their lives. They eat when they like, sleep when they like, and make love when they like. In the same way that humans play the field in the modern dating scene, many cats live the rest of their lives in this state of romantic limbo. Very few truly commit to pairing for life and often stay single.

With that said, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, the king must find a partner to rule The Castle with. Where that rule came from we do not know but it has been carried down for generations. The King must have a queen and she must be a  Queen of Surpassing Worth and Value to help him rule The Castle.

A couple of years ago, King Zirk thought he found the queen he desired. She was sleek and shiny with lips of ruby red. He loved her more than he loved himself (which says a lot because he loved himself a lot). But one day, he was entertaining a whole room of guests. In an attempt to flatter his queen by means of flaunting her beauty, he requested she come collarless.

“Collarless!” she declared to one of his subjects who came to her chambers (which was just a cubby in a bookcase but it was her Royal Cubby),  “A most shameful thing indeed! I would never be seen without my collar and certainly not in public! I could be taken back to the Humane Society for something like that. What an undignified request! Besides, I’m sleeping,” she yawned.

And so, the royal subject left her royal highness in her Royal Cubby while the queen slept deeply and without regret. The king, however, was furious with this news for he had promised his friends a show of scandalous, collar-free debauchery. And it just was not fair!

“This isn’t fair!” he pouted. “How dare she make a fool of me!” scowled King Zirk. “I am the laughing stock of The Castle!”

His fury made him thrash a chair and throw his favourite biscuits around. He ripped books off the shelf and tore rolls of  toilet paper to shreds. The whole Castle was a mess and even still after all he did, his anger did not subside. And so, he sent his royal subjects to pluck the queen out of her Royal Cubby and throw her out of The Castle. Right into the wet alley where old newspapers got moldy and critters went bump in the night. Just like that, with a snap of the king’s claws, the queen was castaway, rejected and unwanted. Left in the cold with no Royal Cubby to call home.

The king’s anger made him blackout and days later, he had to ask one of his royal subjects why The Castle was such a mess. The royal subject, prepping to be thrown out of The Castle like the queen, fearfully told him what had happened. The king had mercy on him for none of this other subjects had the courage to tell him the truth. King Zirk nodded majestically and sat on this thrown (it’s just the ledge on top of a fireplace but everyone knows it’s the king’s spot). Turning his face away, the royal feline curled up and slept. Nothing he did after this was ever the same. Even customers at the cafe remarked how his crown of hair was flatter than normal. Not at all like the Rebel Without a Cause they so closely associated him with. The king was struggling and everybody knew. It  became very clear to every cat in the kingdom that the king was lost without his queen. His servants knew they had to do something.



“K” for Know

Soooooo small update.

After the first post on Monday, I got a call on Tuesday for a contract at Seven Stones. It began Wednesday and runs for the next six weeks. It’s the school I interned at last year so I felt like I’m coming home.  I’m filling in for Flower, the Indigenous Studies teacher (I wrote about the team last year. I’ll reintroduce them again soon. Flower has the coolest flower tattoos all over her arms. She’s really into botany). It’s really weird not having her around ’cause she’s a mega member of the staff and Cultural Arts team. But she’ll be back soon and the kids will be so happy to see her. My goal is to hold the fort until her return and learn some Cree and Indigenous history in the mean time 😉

Side note. I’m starting to wonder if God has something up His sleeve. I have all kinds of reasons for studying Esther’s story but I feel like God’s got His reasons, too… So I’ll keep you posted as we go.

As I was saying last week, I’m building this story like an Inquiry project. Before I can actually tell the story, I need to get the facts down and set this up a little. I usually start those with a KWL chart. On Monday, I did the ‘W’, meaning “Want to Know” and today, I’m going to dig into the ‘K’ for “Know.” After this, the story of Esther with a cast of kitties will begin.

Here’s my list of Know’s:

  • It’s the story of how God used Esther (and Mordecai) to save the Jewish people from genocide. The story is celebrated during the festival of Purim (a.k.a. Festival of Lots. I recognize that name from the New Testament. Can’t remember what passage it is but Jesus does something special near this festival). Generally, it occurs in March each year. They celebrate this story, specifically their deliverance from their enemies.
  • Esther’s real name is Hadassah. She is given the name Esther to hide her Jewish identity.
  • Hadassah means ‘myrtle tree.’ The tree holds different meanings to different cultures but to the Hebrews it symbolizes love and marriage. The oils and fragrance of the the tree are often used in the cosmetic and medical industry.
  • Persian Empire is now present-day Iran and surrounding area.
  • King Xerxes is written with a certain level of empathy.  He’s got strengths and weaknesses. In comparison, Haman is written as the supreme Bad Guy. There is nothing redeeming about him. He is seen as completely wicked. Not only is he sentenced to die at the end, but his whole family and bloodline dies, too. He was the one to organize the genocide against the Hebrews. In the end, it’s his legacy that becomes extinct. **This point is obviously arguable but this is just how I read it. **

**The next little bit of K’s I got from the Intro to Esther in the NIV bible version. Here’s the website. Found here: Intro to Esther (NIV)**

  • The author was likely Hebrew and called Persia home as he/she is aware of Persian customs. It was written a couple years after the Hebrews were delivered from their enemies as the writer references some of the anniversaries.
  • The writer has a thing for the number 2. There are a lot of duplications in the story:

In addition to the three groups of banquets that come in pairs there are two lists of the king’s servants (1:10,14), two reports that Esther concealed her identity (2:10,20), two gatherings of women (2:8,19), two fasts (4:3,16), two consultations of Haman with his wife and friends (5:146:13), two unscheduled appearances of Esther before the king (5:28:3), two investitures for Mordecai (6:10–118:15), two coverings of Haman’s face (6:127:8), two royal edicts (3:12–158:1–14), two references to the subsiding of the king’s anger (2:17:10), two references to the irrevocability of the Persian laws (1:198:8), two days for the Jews to take vengeance (9:5–12,13–15) and two letters instituting the commemoration of Purim (9:20–28,29–32).

  • Because God isn’t explicitly stated in the story and there is no reference to worship, sacrifice or prayer (as was common to the Hebrew’s lifestyle), people often wonder why it would be considered a part of the bible. Since the story is mostly written with a Hebrew audience in mind, they would read it with the assumption that God is already involved. There is no need to prove His existence in the story, nor is their any need to educate the readers on the customs as they already are familiar with it.  God’s sovereignty is assumed, even in the most trivial inconveniences and coincidences. It’s believed that by omitting any reference to God, it actually draws more attention to Him and the work He did/does behind the scenes. Odd, I know, but the technique is surprisingly effective. I’m constantly wondering, “God, what are you up to? And WHY?” And it leaves me in a state of awe every time I read this story and try to figure out how he weaved the sequence of events together. The artistry of the plot alone blows my mind.  All the writer had to do was document it. God took care of the rest.

I feel like there’s more to this list but this is a good place to start.

And now the story begins…

Wanna and Why: Re-Telling the Story of Esther with Kitties

Well, I lasted about two weeks of no writing. Not the full month but almost. I ended the “holiday” early because I have a writing project I’ve been wanting to complete for awhile now and believe completing it would be of more use than, well, not.

In my last blog, Desert Design Writing, I attempted to tell some bible stories. I studied the book of Judges and the gospel of John. I also tried to work through the story of Esther but never finished it. Partially out of laziness but mostly out of fear. Fear that I’d teach it the wrong way and lead people in the wrong direction. Fear that I’d say something offensive or condemning and be rejected. Fear that something “bad” would happen and leave my world shattered again.

I can’t say I’m necessarily prepared for any of those things to happen again. Oddly, the compulsion and desire to tell Esther’s story is winning out and quite possibly even more unbearable than the fear.

So here’s how I’m going to do this. I’m going to tell this story the way I’d arrange an Inquiry unit in class with a KWL chart (K=Know, W=Want to Know, L = Learned). Usually, we start with the K but I’m going to rearrange it a bit and start with the W. In this case, my W is a mix of ‘Why’ and ‘Want to Know.’ I think anytime we set our minds on some sort of goal, we want to be aware of the “why.” Life will get crazy and sometimes nightmares do come true but the “why” keeps us focused so we can stay on target and don’t give up. I’m doing this so I can come back to it again when I feel like giving up.

Here are my ‘why’s’:

  • I’ve been dating a lot. There have been some really great things that have happened and some not so great things. I’m not necessarily swearing off dating but I do recognize that my self-esteem and self -worth have taken a hit. I want to study the story of Esther to remind myself of who I am in Jesus’s eyes: chosen, beloved and precious. 
  • I’m telling it on my blog as a messy ‘first’ draft because God uses it to teach me grace, His sufficiency and how to trust Him more. By taking time to tell it, God uses it to speak into my life and the life of my readers. I want tell this story to remind other women of who they are in Jesus’s eyes, too. 
  • I want to learn about leadership from a feminine point of view. As a Christian, obviously, I want to become more like Jesus and lead like He does, sacrificially and with a servant’s heart.  With that said, Jesus is a man and I am a woman. I believe men and women have different styles and roles when it comes to leadership. So I want to know, how does Esther lead? What makes her so effective? What makes her unique as a leader? What qualities make her desirable to the king? I want to know what being a godly leader looks like as a woman. Is there truly a difference in the way men and women lead? 
  • Lastly, a word on style. I want to tell Esther’s story with a cast of cats. Why? Because I love cats (duh), it would challenge me as a writer and I don’t think it’s been done before (minus Veggies Tales, where everyone is a vegetable and marketed for children. In the version I’d like to tell, mostly everyone is a cat and marketed for teenagers and older). I also like to do clown work in the theatre and a clown’s job is to take difficult subject matter and make it digestible for her audience. I want to tell the story of Esther with cats to help both my readers and myself digest some hard truths with a sense of humour. 
  • Another reason I want to tell it on my blog and not, say, as an e-book, is because so many of the themes I play with in Claws by Susan P are similar to Esther’s. Both deal with topics of beauty, womanhood, love/marriage, justice and even God’s sovereignty. By adding cats, I’d be able to bring in the pet-sitting thing that inspired the name in the first place.  I want to get some direction and focus from Esther’s story so I can re-evaluate how I’m doing things on Claws by Susan P. 

So yeah, I think that’s it. I’ll get into more of the K and L parts later. Will keep you posted 😉

Oh! I almost forgot…

My goal is to complete this story by my 32nd birthday on November 26th.