Monday, April 25, 2016

The Sound of the Cat's Coat

Marvin wasn't what you would call a 'fat cat', or a real 'big cheese' sort of feline.  Yet cats from all around would do a double take whenever Marvin walked down the alley.

Marvin wasn't the coolest cat you ever saw.  He wasn't a high jumper, or a fence leaper like some of those other daredevil cats.  No, but the reason other cats knew for a fact that Marvin was 'all that' was his big and beautiful, super soft fur coat.

Marvin felt like a million bowls of fish flavoured cat food with that coat on.  It was a deep red colour, with specks of orange and sparkly blue rubies sewn all over it.  It flowed long and lean down his back, brushing against the sidewalk like a very satisfying back scratch.  Marvin liked to pop the collar on his coat and just purr down the sidewalk without a care in the world.

At home, Marvin would brush his coat with a brush made of golden bristles of softness.  He would brush it 45 678 times each afternoon before his cat nap.

Marvin spent his days strolling the alley.  Cat Alley was a pretty normal place, as far as alleys go.  But when Marvin strolled by, cats took notice.

Little kittens playing yarn ball in the gutters would stop to stare.  Teen cats would stop playing their game of Cattleship and stare.  Sickly old grand cats would come up to him for prayer.  Their eyes were getting dim, and they mistook the coat for a Friar's frock.  He told them he didn't have healing powers, and advised them to just lick their wounds and hope for the best.

And maybe there weren't any magical powers in that coat.  Maybe it was simply just a beautiful coat.  Well, let's read on and find out.

One day, down at the Ol' Trashpile where all of cats would hang out, Marvin joined his catmates as they dug through the trash for yummy treasures.  Delicious things like fish bones, broccoli soaked in garbage juice, tuna flavoured sour candies, or even Marvin's very favourite –  old, smelly socks that smell of the smell of a thousand deadly smells that just plain stink. 

Before Marvin got in there to dig around he was sure to carefully take his jacket off before hand, knowing that his mother did not want him to spill anything on it.  He gently draped it over the steel rail that stuck out from the side of the large dumpster sitting next to the cans.

It was a dark and damp alley, but during the summer days like today, on particularly clear days like this one, at just the right time like now, for just the smallest moment like this one, the sun would peak its way into the alley and down all the way to the dumpster. 

And that's what happened today!

With the sunshine, Marvin's coat lit up like an explosion of Fireworks!

The blue rubies twinkled and shone like nothing any cat in Cat Alley had ever seen before.  Cats from all around him stopped chewing on their garbage treats.  Cats licking themselves stopped licking themselves.  Other cats gathered around admiring the amazing robe of light.  It was too beautiful for words.

News quickly spread and cats from all around the neighbourhood began to arrive at the radiant spot.  Soon enough, local cats started to see the benefit of having such a spectacle in their alley.  It became a tourist attraction.  And like most tourist attractions, there was big bucks to be made.

Lou Cat, a rather hip cat, begun selling sunglasses to those who needed a little protection from the light.  "My shades are all the rage, man!" He would say to no one in particular, waving the glasses in the air to prospective customers

Marge Cat, the chatty cat of the community, brought a megaphone out and began to announce all sorts of interesting things about the coat.  "Dis here coat is made of the finest silks of North Arabia, don't ya' know?!" She would holler.  Marvin didn't have the guts to tell her that there is no such place as North Arabia because Marge Cat was known for clawing cats that disagreed with her.

Gerry Cat sat next to the coat, closed his eyes, and fell asleep.  Other cats joined him and soon enough the area was a full on cat nap zone.

The coat continued to sparkle.  Tears filled the eyes of those closest to it.  They weren't sad tears, but tears of joy.  The light just seemed to be getting stronger and stronger.  

A small group of artists began to paint pictures of the coat.  The array of colours they had splashed on the canvas looked pale and dull compared to the real thing.  Frustrated, the cats would break their paintings over their little cat knees and start over, determined to capture the essence of the coat.

Milky Cat, the Philosophical cat, had a small gathering around him as he orchestrated a debate about whether or not the coat had some sort of meaning that which portrayed an aura of logical illusions of solar reproduction.

Perry Cat, the poet cat from the next alley over, prepared and delivered a poem:

"The sun spoke, to the folk, 
Who crawl and claw, near the coat.

My eyes look, my heart it took
For the coat of coats, I'd cross the moat
Of love

This old cat, loves fish and that,
But be close to me, thus mine coat
Of dreams."

Cats all around applauded the great rhymes by clicking their claws together.

The party was wild.  What a day in Cat Alley!  Friends and family from the other side of town, reunited with their loved ones.  Cat gangs put down their weapons and declared it a day of peace and reconciliation.  

A trapeze of acrocats showed up out of nowhere, diving down from the walls and windows, swinging on the clothes lines strung between.  Cat-flips, cat-stands, cat-wheels – the whole kitten caboodle!  The crowd applauded.  The little kittens dreamed dreams.

The old timers hadn't seen the alley this hoppin' since the days of the great fish truck stall of '99. What a time to be alive!

In all of the excitement and commotion no one heard the strange noise but Gerry, who sat closest to the coat.  His eyes popped open.

"Shhhhh!" He called out.

But the good times kept rolling.

"Quiet!!!" He hollered.


"You hear that?"

A small sound seemed to be coming from near the coat.  Marvin put down his smelly sock cocktail and moved in close.  The sound was in fact coming from his coat! 

Yes, If you squinted hard enough, and turned your good ear close enough, you would be able to make out some sort of song flowing out of the coat, like chimes in the wind.  No!  More like angels pouring out purple flavoured melodies of an ancient hymn.  

A murmur floated over the crowd.  Some were too far away to hear anything.

Marvin quieted the crowd with a raised paw.  

Marge's megaphone squeaked one last time as she dropped it to the ground.

Those cats with sunglasses lowered them in a quizzical, slow-motion kind of way.

Nothing could be heard but the distant traffic rolling through the city streets.  They all waited, whiskers twitched, and their tails silently tamping the damp concrete.  

They waited... and waited... deeper into the silence they fell...  their restraint was the stuff of cat legends.  Their patience, a holy act.

And suddenly, there it was again.  The music of light, filling the air with it's distant ring, like a small bell calling the cats to dinner... or maybe prayer.  The community basked in the beauty of the sound.  Their tails patted the ground in unison.  That dungy old alley, for that brief moment, was holy ground.

Then somebody burped.


Bruno, the biggest cat of them all, hobbled over with a big can of Cat Cola in his paw and, through no fault of his own, accidentally stood in the way of the sunshine, snuffing out the beautiful and raw wonder of the coat.

"Hey, what's everybody lookin' at?" said Bruno, as his shadow blocked the 'Corium de Cattus', as Latin cats would later come to label the historic event.

"Bruno!  Move out of the way!"  They shouted.  But it would be too late, for the moment had passed.  The music faded, the glory of the blue rubies fizzled out.  It was as if it was all a dream.  Marvin looked around at the other cats.

"Way to go, Bruno!  Doing what ya' always do." Cried Rusty the Rat.  The cats thought it was mighty generous of them all to let him hang out with them, so some were a little annoyed with his complaining.  Billy Cat picked up Rusty by the tail and punted him to the curb like a football.  Rusty landed on a pile of old newspaper, rubbing his backside and thinking about what a mean rat he was being.

Yet others agreed with him.  "Bruno, why are you such a klutzy cat?  

"Dunno.  I'm not trying to be.  Just wanna know what you guys are up to."

Professor Snorgglecat chimed in.  "Dah, just the most breathtaking display of solar jusxtsposation, complex acute catricity, that will rule in catish lore for ages into which our great grand cats will only be able to speculate of its verified truthfulness."

"Oh, um.  Sorry, I think."

With that, all of the cats went their separate ways.  All but Marvin and Milky... and Bruno, who was trying to figure out what juxaposation means.  He also felt very sad with his hurt feelings spilling out of his eyes and drip-dropping into his soda pop.

Marvin and Milky understood what had happened.  What they had been witness to.  It was something that no Bruno burp could ever take away from them, no matter how loud and smelly.  They would cherish it for their whole 9 lives.

Marvin looked at Bruno, the clumsy but lovable cat, and knew what he needed to do.  He reached for his coat, and took his wallet and cell phone out of the pocket.  He didn't notice at the time but his cell phone had two missed calls on it.  And if he did notice the 2 missed calls he would remember that he changed his ring tone that morning to "Holy Angelic, Purple Beauty of Wonder", a ring tone song he had received for free with a 2 year fixed term phone plan.  

After feeling the smooth fur in his hands one last time, he threw the coat over Bruno's shoulders.

Bruno's sad puppy dog eyes turned into big happy, well-would-you-look-at-that cat eyes.  He smiled at Marvin and Marvin gave him the go ahead.

Bruno waltzed down the road in his shiny new coat.

"Hey Bruno!  Not half bad!" Came a shout from across the way.

"Brunoooo, you da' cat, man!" rang the voice of Lou Cat.

For once, Bruno would feel like a million bowls of fish flavoured cat food.

"Hey, isn't that your favourite coat?" Milky asked Marvin.

Marvin thought about it for a moment.

"Yeah, maybe, but there's more to life than just waltzing around the alley in some ol' piece of fur."

We know that the magical song in the coat was just a free ring tone, but you know what?  Marvin and Bruno don't.  They still believe that this coat is the most amazing coat in the whole wide world of cats.  It may not be true, but that's okay with me if it's okay with you.

Miles drawing Marvin with the coat

Sad Bruno before he got to wear the coat

Monday, April 18, 2016

What's His Face?

This story is What's It Called.  No, that's not a question, that's what it's called.  I was trying to think of a better name, and I thought of one, but then I forgot.  So it's what's it called.  Actually, it's about What's his face, so maybe that's what I'll call it.

Now, one day What's it called was broken.  What's his face noticed that What's it called was broken because it's thing-a-ma-jiggers were scattered all over the place.  There were do-dad's up in the trees, and springy things springing all around the flower beds.  What's his face could not figure out what had happened, or what to do with What's it called.

Now, I should explain.  What's his face was a very unique boy.  He had the biggest moustache you have ever seen for such a boy.  The problem was that his name was impossible to pronounce, so impossible that I decided just to call him What's his face.

Anyway, What's his face had a big problem with What's it called because of all of the thing-a-ma jiggers and thing-a-ma-bobbers all over the place.  With all of the people walking around, staring at What's his face and all of the What's it called all over the place, What's his face could only think of one thing to do.  He picked it up and placed it in the back of the ordinary looking truck parked next to him.

Now, the ordinary looking truck was no ordinary looking truck!  It had big shiny lights in the shape and colour of a million bubble gum flavours.  It had an automatic licorice dispensing machine sitting in the back, and it had tires that sparkled with the dust of a thousand sparkly dusty things.  In short, this ordinary truck was very out of the ordinary.  It also had a driver and her name was Vanessa Ice Cream.

Once What's his face had placed What's it called inside of the ordinary van, he got out of the ordinary van and shut the door tight.  With the click of the door handle, the ordinary van started hopping and bopping down the road in quite a strange and out of the ordinary fashion.

First of all, it was driving backwards!  Second of all, the door flew open.  Third of all, What's it called fell out and spilled do-dads and thingys all over the road!

The biggest Problem was that Vanessa Ice Cream didn't notice that What's it called had fallen out!  She was too busy listening to the radio; listening to her favourite song, What's the name of that song again?  She knew every word.  You know that song, right?  It goes like this?

Do, be do be do.... Do, be do be da... something, something, something, cause I looooooooove you!

Do you know What's the name of that song again, too?  Oh, it sure is great and the words are so deep, they make me very emotional.  Such a great song!

Well, maybe too great because... remember... Vanessa Ice Cream was dancing and bopping in the ordinary truck and a rather extraordinary way, all the while the What's it called was just laying there on the ground, like a big pile of What Cha Ma Call it.

What's his face tried the best he could to help.

"Vanessa Ice Cream!  Vanessa Ice Cream!  The What's it called has fallen out of the ordinary truck!  Drive forwards and get it!  Drive forwards, will ya?!

Cause you need to remember that, at this point, the truck was going backwards.  That's what ordinary trucks do, I guess.  And this was no ordinary ordinary truck, that's for sure.

Vanessa couldn't hear him.  her favourite part of What's the name of that song again was coming up.

Do, be do be do.... Do, be do be da... something, something, something, cause I looooooooove you!

What's his face was worried.  With What's it called sitting there on the ground it was available for anyone to take.  He didn't want it to fall into the wrong hands.

But he seemed to have spoken too late, for just as What's his face was about to run after the What's it called, Mr. & Mrs. Wrong Hands had appeared from around the corner.  They were a very nice couple, been married for a long time, but they had never been able to own a What's it called.  Mrs. Wrong Hands had put it on her Birthday wish list, but Mr. Wrong Hands didn't know how to read, so he could never read it and buy one for her.

Anyway, once they saw the What's it called, The Wrong Hands ran after it.  What's his face ran too, they both ran.  They ran, ran, ran!  Who would make it first?

Well, a strange thing happened, wouldn't you know.  There must have been some springy things still left in the What's it called because just before What's his face could get to it it sprung up into the air and landed in another tree.  What's his face started to shake the tree, back and forth, and The Wrong Hands helped him as it was a very large tree.

Suddenly, the What's it called fell into the Wrong Hands Hands.  What's his face was terrified.  He was sure that the Wrong Hands would take it away and he would never see it again.

Just then, Vanessa Ice Cream came roaring back up the road, this time going forward.  There were 3 cop cars behind her, and they pulled her over.

It turned out that all they wanted was some licorice, but when they realized that What's it called had fallen into the Wrong Hands the cops told everyone to freeze!

"Is that what I think it is?"  asked the first officer, who by the way was rudely chewing loudly on his licorice.

"Yes, it is!"  Said What's his face.  "I was trying to fix it but all of the thingys and do-hickys keep falling out!"

"We've always wanted one." pleaded the Wrong Hands.

"Ha, well, and I've always wanted my very own a Something or Other but I don't think that's going to happen any time soon, now is it" responded one of the other cops.

They all agreed.  It seemed very unlikely, and unfair, that a cop could never own his very own Something or Other.

"Weph, I jus' mink tis begongs im va gushesum."

Everyone looked at the cop rudely chewing on his licorice.  He realized his rudeness, apologized, and repeated himself.

"Sorry, I just think it belongs in the museum."

Of course, thought What's his face.  The museum was the perfect place for What's it called.  That way everyone could enjoy it, and with the police officers help, it would never fall into the Wrong Hands again.

That very afternoon the whole town of Where? gathered together at the museum.  What's his face held What's it called up in the air for all to see.  Everyone cheered as he passed it over to the Mayor, Mayor Mayor, over the outstretched hands of The Wrong Hands.  The sad couple soon realized that it was for the best.  That inside the museum all could enjoy, all could celebrate... What's it called!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Mad Scientist - A Bedtime Story for Kids.

It was the end of a long and lazy Saturday for Simon.  He'd been outside riding his bike around the block, splashing in the puddles from the rain that had fallen the night before.  After a hearty lunch of instant noodles, grilled cheese, and a big, fat pickle, Simon decided to look over his favourite hockey cards.

Browsing through the cards, he came across his favourite players:  Buddy Splunder, left winger for the Golden Turtles, Mikael Radavoyinovskiloshovic (Rad-ah-voy-in-off-ski-low-sh-vic), a tough as nails defender for the last place Clammy Spiders.  There was Dave Bucketsauce, a goalie for Simon's favourite team, The Flying Saucers.  They weren't very good, but Dave had a great glove hand and was really nice to his teammates.  After practice, the other players would often find notes of encouragement from Dave, along with some freshly baked chocolate chip brownies.

Oh, yes.  Dave was a great guy.  And for Simon, it didn't get any better than when Dave Bucketsauce was on the ice!  Simon was so sad when, a few years ago, Bucketsauce had to retire.  He had already played a long time in the league, and now he would play sometimes with other older players for fun.  Whenever those players would come to town, Simon would always get his dad to buy a ticket for him.

On the back of the cards there was often little notes about each player.  Simon would read these notes to help to get to know the players a little bit better:

• Mikael's favourite food was cheeseburgers with peanut butter and bacon jam.

• Buddy Splunder once sailed on a pirate ship across the Bermuda Triangle.  He made it through, but just barely.  The lighthouse workers found Buddy on his ship, passed out from the terrible journey.   When Buddy awoke he discovered that he was now left handed and he was fluent in Portuguese.  The language didn't help him that much at first, but a left handed left winger was just what coach Skipper LeBarge was looking for.  Buddy quickly became one of the best scorers in the league, and spent most of his summers off leading tour groups down to the remote parts of Brazil.

Simon flipped over Bucketsauce's card and soon realized, to his amazement, that he had never, ever read the back of his card.  This is what it read:

"David Pewter Bucketsauce grew up in Stony Plain, Alberta.  His favourite subject in school was Science, where he learned from the great science teacher, and former Amazing Hockey League Superstar Sandra McGarnickle.  Bucketsauce says he learned all his moves from McGarnickle, as she taught him Gym class as well."

Simon had to rub his eyes and read that again, so he did:

"David Pewter Bucketsauce grew up in Stony Plain, Alberta.  His favourite subject in school was Science, where he learned from the great science teacher, and former Amazing Hockey League Superstar Sandra McGarnickle.  Bucketsauce says he learned all his moves from McGarnickle, as she taught him Gym class as well."

Simon couldn't believe it!  Do you want to know why?  Well, there are 3 reasons why:

1.  Simon was also from Stony Plain, Alberta.  In fact, he still lived there.  
2.  Simon's Grandma was a science teacher in Stony Plain a long time ago.
3.  Simon's last name was McGarnickle.  The same as his Grandma's, whose name was Sandra.

So... Sandra McGarnickle was Simon's Grandma!  She had passed away when Simon was very young, so he didn't know her very well, but wow!  He had no idea that she played in the Amazing Hockey League.  

Simon threw his cards down and ran into the front yard to ask his mom about it.  She was outside planting some flowers.  To Simon, some of them smelled nice like roses and candy.  Others smelled like mothballs, dirty dirt, and rotting leaves with rotting leaves rotting on top of them.

"Mom, how come you never told me that Grandma was in the AHL?!"

Simon's mom smiled.  "I was wondering when you were going to figure that out.  I knew that her name was all over your hockey cards.  I'm surprised it took you this long to find it."

Simon thought for a moment.  He had so many hockey cards (at least 412) that he didn't have time to read them all; just his favourites.  "Oh, well, yeah, I guess I should have.  I can't believe it!  This is the coolest thing ever!"

Simon's mom leaned in close.  "You want to know something?  I'm pretty sure we have a box somewhere out in the garage that has a whole bunch of her stuff.  Do you want to go and see if we could find it?"

But Simon was already gone, flying around the yard and through the garage door.  Inside he stared up at the giant wall of shelves.  Simon was a pretty little guy, so it was hard to see all the way up to the top of the shelves.  He once tried climbing up them, but got scared at about the 4th shelf.  He was pretty sure there were about 1000 shelves, even though his mom knew that there were only 8.

"Okay, okay, just a sec.  Let me see here."  Simon's mom grabbed a small ladder and climbed up to see to the top of the shelves.  "Ah, yes, this looks like the right one."

She pulled out the dusty, worn out cardboard.  The handles looked too weak for her to use, so she gently cradled it under her arm as she stepped back down.

Together they carried it into the house and placed it down on the living room floor.  

Simon couldn't wait any longer.  He threw open the lid.  Dust filled the air, but only for a moment.  Inside the box, right on the top, was a worn out and faded hockey jersey.  The colours were that of the legendary Mt. Fling Slippery Frogs!  What hockey fan could ever forget that memorable goal that Frog legend Skrive Lightbulb scored to win the Championship Cup back in 1994?  Simon must have watched the clip a thousand times on the Internet.  He flipped the sweater over to reveal the number 10 and his very own last name on the top!

"Wow!  Coooooool!  Grandma was a Slippery Frog!"  Tears welled up in Simon's eyes, but just for a moment.  He felt so much pride, for his Great Grandma, and now for the #10.  Simon had always been #25, but from now on he wanted to be just like his Grandma.  

"Try it on."  His mom told him.  Simon lifted the Gold and Orange sweater over his head and pushed his arms through.  It flopped down like a dress, but Simon didn't care.  He ran to the mirror, turned around and saw his name... his number.  Wow!

"There's more in here, Simon."  He ran back to see big pile of things:  Some hockey socks, some special Slippery Frog hockey tape, complete with their trademark "Outrageous Orange" lucky checker pattern.  He found a trophy that his Grandma had won when she played Jr. Hockey in Scarlet town, playing for the Lodge Mart Vinyl Sidings.  They were named after their top sponsor, Lodge Mart, which specialized in selling Barbecues, lawn furniture, and really, really big chocolate bars.  Grandma Sandra had been the team's top rookie in 1987.

Simon also found some of his Grandma's hockey cards, one for each year that she had played.  Altogether Grandma Sandra had played from 1992-2009, a total of 17 seasons, all with the Slippery Frogs.  Wow!  

Simon was born in 2008, so she had even played when he was just a baby.  Amazing!

For the next several hours, Simon poured over his Grandma's cards, being extra careful as he turned them over to read the back.

Sandra McGarnickle • Right Wing • Slippery Frogs
Goals • 28
Assists • 37
Points • 65

"When Sandra's not playing hockey, she's in the school, teaching kids about Science.  He favourite thing to teach about is bugs, and how crazy bugs are.  Her students think that she is very cool.  Her students have a nickname for her, they call her The Mad Scientist."

Sandra McGarnickle • Right Wing • Slippery Frogs
Goals • 37
Assists • 48
Points • 85

"This season, Sandra had the best point totals of her career.  She credits her high numbers to eating a lot of good, healthy vegetables, lots of rock climbing, and most importantly, always watching the sports highlights in the mornings before school."

Sandra McGarnickle • Right Wing • Slippery Frogs
Goals • 21
Assists • 24
Points • 45

"McGarnickle has decided that this will be her last season in the Amazing Hockey League.  She is looking forward to spending more time doing other things with her time, like collecting seashells, painting her garden fence like a rainbow, smelling flowers, riding her bike through puddles after it had rained the night before, and most importantly, spending some time with her new Grandson, Simon."

He couldn't believe it!  She had talked about him to the hockey card people!  His name was on the card!  He was famous!  Just like his Grandma!  Wow!

Simon also thought it was really cool that his Grandma also liked to splash through puddles after it had rained the night before.  He really, really liked that.

For a moment, sadness came over Simon.  He wished he would have been able to know his Grandma.  She had been such a cool lady, and it seems like they would have had a lot in common.  Simon wanted to talk to her, to ask her what it was like to play in the AHL, to see what it was like to play for the Slippery Frogs and even with the great Dave Bucketsau... wait a second!!!

Simon dashed through the living room, grabbed his mom's tablet, and went on to Hockeytube.  He searched up his favourite Slippery Frogs video, the game winning goal for Skrive Lightbulb.  And it was there...  How could Simon have been so blind?.... how could he have never seen it before?...

Simon pressed 'play' on the video and all at once the announcer's voice echoed throughout the room.

"The game is tied at 3 with only seconds to play.  The 1994 Championship Cup is on the line tonight.  Who will win?  The Mt. Fling Slippery Frogs or the defending Champions, the Twirly Darts of St. Luca De Boca?  

The faceoff is in the Dart's zone.  Rookie Skrive Lightbulb is out there to take the draw.  He wins it!  The puck comes back to DeLantain.  He holds it, moves it across to Buttersworth.  Buttersworth passes it back to DeLantain.  Only 4 seconds to go,  They need to get a shot here!

Yes, DeLantain lets a wrist shot go, it hits a body in front and bounces around.  The Mad Scientist get's her stick on it and pokes it through to Lightbulb, he shoots, he scores!!!!!  Frogs win!  Frogs win!  What a play by the Mad Scientist!  What a player!  What a Champion!"

Simon still couldn't believe it.  He turned to see his mother by the doorway, smiling brightly at her son learning about his amazing Grandma.

It was a long and lazy Saturday for Simon, that is, until he met the legend that is: The Mad Scientist.