Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Now It Can Be Told: That Cat Can’t Stay Is Out!

Out on the bookshelves, that is.

I’ve been sitting on my hands since last November, begging to be allowed to blog about That Cat Can’t Stay. As anyone who’s known me for more than five seconds knows, I’m a cat-lover. Actually, that’s putting it mildly. Try head over heels. Gaga. I often joke that my computer contains so many pictures of cats that the next time it needs to be serviced, I’ll have to take it to a veterinarian.

When I found out last November that Flashlight Press was going to publish a book about cats, I think I reacted like a kid who had just been handed a lollipop, or perhaps a giant-size chocolate bar. A picture book about cats—just for me! “Please, can I blog about it?” I begged the publishers, whom I know personally. “Not until it’s out,” they said. Well, it’s out! Finally! Now I can blog about it.

Mom found a little calico.
Dad said, “That thing has got to go.
There’s no use begging. Don’t say please.
I don't like cats. They scratch my knees.
They carry fleas. They make me sneeze.
They’re always getting stuck in trees.
I want it gone. Send it away.
I'm telling you, that cat can't stay.”

But Dad is a pussycat at heart, and after saying no at first, he changes his mind and says yes. To the delight of his wife and children, his family grows by cat after cat after cat after cat—all of them rescues—until the surprising ending.

Full disclosure: The people at Flashlight Press are friends of mine. (Yes, they still are, even after I pestered them about this book for months.) As readers of this blog know, I don’t advertise in my posts. True, this blog contains one advertising link to Jewish- and Israel-related topics, but I don’t use it for sales, and that’s not my intent now, either. I simply want to let cat-lovers know about That Cat Can’t Stay, a book that I watched come into being as I tried, with little success, to suppress my squeals over each illustration and rhyme. To be honest, I would blog about it even if I didn’t know the publishers at all.

I like to make connections... and I hope that my readers won’t mind if I make a connection between cat-lovers of the blogosphere and this book. The only benefit I’ll be getting from this post is—I hope—some happy readers enjoying That Cat Can’t Stay as much as I did, and do...

... and after all, sometimes cats enjoy being read to as well.

Working cat

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Women and the Torah

From last Rosh Hodesh, two women and a Torah scroll:

Women and Torah scroll


First, a close-up of a scarlet pimpernel, one of my favorite flowers that blooms during our all-too-brief spring:

Scarlet pimpernel

A single blossom of wood sorrel growing from a stone wall:

Wall and sorrel blossom

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cats in the Neighborhood

Cat and lion:

Cat and lion

A member of the cat colony downtown, outside the restaurant where staff members feed them:

Sleepy restaurant cat

Her Ladyship on the bookshelf:

Bookshelf kitty

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Resting Together

A large red tabby rests in the grass together with a much smaller tortoiseshell cat. I got the feeling that they were members of the same family, and perhaps even parent and child.

Two cats

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

Me and My Big Mouth

Earlier this evening, I attended the demonstration against segregated bus lines in Jerusalem.

Setting up

Demonstration 1

Demonstration 3

While everyone was still arriving, before the speakers began, the sound system was playing classic popular Israeli songs. After listening for some time, I realized that I hadn’t heard a single female vocalist. I approached one of the organizers and asked why no female vocalists were on the recording that they were playing. After all, this was a demonstration against forcing women to sit in the back of the bus... and the silencing of women’s voices is a subject close to my heart. “I’m religiously observant,” I told the organizer who spoke to me, “and I’m also a singer.”

“In that case, maybe we’ll have you sing ‘Ha-tikvah’ at the end of the demonstration,” she said.

And so it was. After the last speaker spoke, the emcee introduced me, and I got up onto the stage and led the crowd in our national anthem.

Me and my big mouth.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

After Eighteen Years, a Piece of Paper and “Get Thee Out”

(with apologies to Sholem Aleichem)

Meir, who came to Israel from Uzbekistan eighteen years ago, set up a shoe-repair stall on Emek Refaim Street soon after his arrival. He’s been there ever since, a neighborhood fixture, working in his tiny shop between the post office and the bus stop. His shop is well-kept and its outside cheerfully painted. Whenever I bring Meir my own shoes to repair, his work is excellent and his prices are reasonable.

Now, after eighteen years, the municipality has refused to renew his business license. It will be closing down his stall after Passover as part of a city-wide gentrification project. Apparently, a conveniently-located, reasonably-priced shoe-repair shop is somehow not good enough for the image of Jerusalem that they want to project... just because it happens to be located in a stall rather than in a storefront.

I spoke with Meir today on my way to work and told him how sorry I was to hear what had happened. “What will you do?” I asked him.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t afford to rent a shop in the city. It’s too expensive. It looks like I won’t be able to work.”

Why should Meir, and many more like him, have to face the possibility of losing their livelihoods for the sake of this project? And why should we, the neighborhood residents, have to do without him?

There has to be something that we, the citizens of this city, can do. I’ve already called a current member of the Jerusalem municipal council, who said that she would look into the matter. I also called a former member of the Jerusalem municipal council for advice and emailed the journalist who covers the municipal beat for the local English-speaking newspapers.

Does anyone have any other ideas?

Here are some photos of Meir and his shop. A view from the side, showing the painting:

Meir's shoe-repair stall 1

A view from the front:

Meir's shoe-repair stall 2

Inside the shop:

Meir's shoe-repair stall 4

Friday, March 05, 2010

Computer Kitty Will Fix It For You

Computer Kitty, I’m having trouble with one of my peripherals. Can you help me?

“Sure. What’s the trouble?”

Computer kitty

I’m having trouble getting this microphone to work. What should I do, Your Ladyship?

“I need to think about it for a bit. Can you skritch me while I think?”

“Of course.”

Skritches for Her Ladyship

“You know what, Your Ladyship? Let’s forget about the problem for now. I think I’d just like to keep on skritching you.”

“That’s just what I was hoping you’d say. Oh, I’m so sleepy....”

Her Ladyship falls asleep

“Good night, Your Ladyship. Pleasant dreams.”

“Thanks... zzzzzzz.”

Sleepy kitty

I fixed the problem while Computer Kitty slept.

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

Around and About

Early this afternoon, after I left work, I passed a local pizza place and saw several people in various kinds of army fatigues inside. Turns out that the six people were from five different countries: the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, and New Zealand.

As they ordered their meal, I asked one of them whether I could take their picture—not posed, just candid. He agreed. That’s him turning to face the camera in the photo.

UN troops at pizza place 1

Now, outside on the terrace, enjoying their meal:

UN troops at pizza place 2

After I left, I checked out some wild plants nearby and found a bonus: a praying mantis! (Thanks to Phyllis for the correction.) The shot is slightly overexposed, but I like it anyway.

Praying mantis on cleaver