a cat murder mystery

yesterday was a very strange day. i spent a good portion of it lying about, eating cereal, and watching hgtv. i then proceeded to skip my shower and run some very important errands. keep in mind, i hadn’t showered the day before so with lots of deodorant and a splash of baby powder [baby powder smells somewhat nice and dries up oily hair] i was on my way. the bank. a supermarket for bathroom things. then food. all the while, i was surprised that no one scowled upon my entrance to these public places. when i say my hair was oily, i mean that i could probably squeeze out enough of the stuff to saute some veggies with..
i was finally finished with the mundane tasks of the day so i left for home. upon my arrival, i got the strange urge to explore. all day, i had talked about this fantastically relaxing bubble bath that i had plans on taking the minute i got home but all of a sudden, exploring the wooded area that is the back of my mother’s property trumped any plans to clean myself. [yes, i am living at home with my mother to save for london and my future move – it’s just the way it is] my original thought was to do a little shed hunting and i set out on this adventure, one black cat in tow.

{so many greens}

{so many greens}

the wandering started off simply enough. binks was traveling with and tripping me every step of the way. there are a lot of strange things in those acres behind the house. a dilapidated red barn, some uber creepy white storage sheds, a dip in the land where the previous owners would dump garbage (?)

binks and i stumbled across deer tracks, a massive uprooted tree [a result of a tornado that killed at least a dozen people and destroyed lots of homes in town] and a shoe.

the lost lake in a dirty shoe

{the lost lake in a dirty shoe}

this cat reminds me of nero corleone, the star character from a children’s book by elke heidenreich. i have no idea where my parents found this little gem of a book but i never really appreciated it’s storyline and content until i became an adult. i have a weird obsession for unique objects, especially books, especially children’s books. and as for nero corleone . . .

Nero was still thinking about what Robert had said long after he returned to the farm. All the time the New Year’s Eve fireworks were blasting off down in the village, all the time he lay in the hay cuddling with Rosa while she licked and polished his fur as she did every night, that sentence of Robert’s lingered in Nero’s ears. Smelling of milk and pork sausage, he tried to give her hints of a better, more gracious life, a life that one could spend on soft carpets and in warm, cozy couch corners, a life where saucers were always full and people ready to admire one for being special, a wonderfully accomplished creature, instead of just an ordinary , barely tolerated farm cat.
Nero told in great detail of his visit to the German couple, what daring it had taken to jump up onto the couch of total strangers like that. News of it spread like wildfire, and soon everyone on the farm was calling him Lionheart. Cuore di leone is how you say it in Italian, or as a name, Corleone, Nero Corleone . . . “Preceded by Don” – which means “sir” — “if you please~” he requested, and so that became his name.

nero corleone

{my little nero. he showed up as a stray kitten and has found a new home with my mother and i}

to be precise, there are two black cats that showed up and both decided to stay. the cat food we purchased probably had a big effect on their decision. i had not seen the other, more skittish cat of the two for a few days, and even though they are more than capable of taking care of themselves outdoors, i admit that i had begun to get worried.

binks and i trampled about the overgrown scenery and i occasionally stopped to snap a photo.

hollow tree

{i have always appreciated my home, growing up in indiana. there is enough untouched land to keep me feeling close to the ground, and plenty of larger cities all around, to offer the escape i need from time to time}

{love him}

{love him}

eventually, we crossed an open field and were stopped by a wall of thorny bushes and overgrown shrubbery. this unkempt madness stretched down the entire side of our property; on the other side were neighbor’s houses. with a lot of time on our hands paws, we found enough of an opening to push aside some fallen trees and climb through to the rusty barbed wire fence that marked the property line. everything is quiet when you’re alone and in the woods. i got out my phone to take more pictures and suddenly, a bit of subconscious panic set in. i saw that a man was approaching the area where i was standing and so i slowly lowered myself down, rather uncomfortably, and hovered there for a while. to my horror, he threw a small black mass into the brush and it landed about ten feet away from me. at this moment, binks booked it out of there as though he’d been struck by lightning. i remained frozen (thoughts of dead cats floating in my head) until the man had turned and walked far enough away to be out of ear range to my scrambling sounds. it was impossible to see what had been tossed over the barbed fence, i tried to find a way but every path would have me bleeding from giant thorns. my first priority was finding nero binks and i crawled back through the hole i had come from, and ran to my house. the cat was nowhere to be seen but after some calling and pleading, i saw the little furball bounding towards me from a distant place.

there are some situations where you try to tell yourself that there is nothing to be worried about, that your imagination has gotten away from you. it’s the same situation when you see (what could be) someone’s lost pet walking dangerously close to a busy road. there are people who will immediately justify the precarious situation by telling themselves that the dog/cat probably lives close by and is in no harm. there are some people who will pull over as soon as they can to do some investigating, but personally, i think that those two types of people make up all of us. it’s a decision you make and to be honest, i wish that a passerby had made a different decision when they saw panda, the puppy we had in high school. she had gotten loose during christmas break when our family was in florida, and a friend went there to let the dogs out for a walk. we cut our vacation short to look for her. after searching absolutely everywhere and every day for hours, a week after our return home, we saw her lying on the side of a road close to our house. she had been hit by a car and was no longer breathing. i think of her every time i see a wandering animal and it helps me make the right choice. to investigate.


i tried to tell myself that i had not seen what i had thought i had seen, but binks had been so fearful all of a sudden and i realized there was no way i could go about the rest of my day, not knowing exactly what i had witnessed. at that point, i grabbed a thick walking / bush-beating stick and traveled back to where i had just come from, this time a bit fearful but very, very determined. after some surveying, i found that there was an opening in the old wire fence about ten feet in the opposite direction from where the “it” had been thrown. i climbed through it, frantically looking around me for signs of another human being, and eventually was standing in the exact place that the man had been. i don’t mind getting a little dirty from time to time but i had enough sense to realize that, halfway up on the barbed fence, i should definitely not risk climbing any higher. instead, i peeked through one of it’s large gaps and that was when my stomach dropped. although far away enough, the black furry mound filled me with a number of emotions. fear. anger. sadness. and hate. i couldn’t climb the fence but the thorn bushes were no longer as big of an opposition as they had been before. i hacked at them with my walking stick, occasionally watching my back, and all the while, daydreaming of every thing i would say to this evil man and to the authorities. ten minutes later, with sticks in my hair and scratches on my cheeks, i was hovering over the scene of the crime. to my shock and confusion, although the mound was not my cat, it was an animal. a matted black chicken that looked as though it had met it’s demise many days before. law enforcement did not need to be called. there are plenty of coyotes in the area and that was a likely answer to the situation, considering the condition of the bird.

dead chicken

{i know this isn’t a pleasant picture, but you have to see why i thought this could be a cat from far enough away}

as i was taking the picture above, i realized that work was calling me. another employee had not come in and i was needed to cover the shift. “twenty-five minutes,” i said, and rushed back to the house, a lightness in my step, to throw on some work-appropriate clothing. i wondered about the real whereabouts of missing black cat #2, and lovingly said goodbye to binks. he had been a great accomplice until his desertion in the time of fear. but cats are cats. and dogs are dogs. i am the one that has the responsibility to stay and investigate. it’s my job and yours to make the right choices because the creatures around us do not have a voice. we are their voices.

and so i left for work, having not taken my bath. if you can’t imagine my filth before the day’s adventure, i hope you can picture me with debris in my hair, thorns in my clothes, and dirt on my face. i am sure that my manager regretted calling me as soon as i entered that building.

tikkun olam

"bee season"by: myla goldberg

“bee season”
by: myla goldberg

“The mystics believe that in the beginning of the world, God’s Divine Light, containing all that is good, was enclosed in sacred vessels… but because there was already sin in the world, these vessels could not contain the Light and shattered into countless pieces. The light was dispersed and the shards fell upon the world, becoming poverty, hatred, cruelty, and all the other forms injustice takes. According to the mystics, it is our job to locate these shards and to mend them through good deeds, so that God’s light can be whole again. This is called Tikkun Olam, or the fixing of the world.” It is a concept Saul has described in similar words and with similar motions to previous lovers, though generally in an attempt to get them into bed and not to keep them there. When Miriam’s face lights up, Saul has no idea it is because his words have revealed to her the reason behind that first pink rubber ball and all the objects to follow. Miriam realizes she is a broken vessel, pieces of her scattered everywhere. She has been finding these pieces, in their many forms, and bringing them together so that she can be whole again.

it seems to me that most people i talk with wish they devoted more of their time to reading.
i feel the same way.
books were an integral part of my effervescent childhood,
taking the place of boys, school, and my reality as a youngster in southern indiana.
from time to time, as a mid-twenty-something-year-old, i find myself carefully navigating the niches of book stores.
it is a place where i feel truly sheltered away from the nasty parts of life.
there is a nostalgic familiarity and there, i feel at home.
book stores and libraries appeal to me in a science fiction sort of way as well,
unlike the cacophony of the outside world, these places are quiet, calm, and alluring.
their books … or portals …  can ultimately and immediately transport you to wherever you would like to go. despite this deeply-rooted adoration i have towards reading, life always seems to get in the way.

i found “bee season” at my local goodwill and at $.50, what could i lose?
more closet space from my undiagnosed semi-hoarding?? (we’ll get back to that one later)
but as many portals have the power to do, “bee season” instantly engulfed me under it’s paper wing.. i was no longer reading this book -it was reading me- my mind, my reactions, my inarticulated judgements of these characters and their family dynamics. for the first time in a long time, i couldn’t put it down.
i miss that feeling, the feeling of having no other option than to carry your book with you to the toilet. and then, the quote above propelled me into an even higher plane of curiosity..

tikkun olam

i, not being jewish, had never before observed this expression but it’s meaning, to me, is lovely. in this moment of crystal clarity, miriam becomes overwhelmed with saul’s explanation of tikkun olam. she finally believes that she has grasped the reason behind her troubling yet colorful escapades in shoplifting. her delvings into that taboo lifestyle, like many addictions, have left her with an unexplained adrenaline rush. she feels whole as a person when she takes something, like it was meant to be taken by her.
when miriam opens her heart to saul’s semi-seductive explanation of this phrase, everything just clicks. what was once a carefree theft of a pink rubber band ball, quickly becomes an obsession.. and now there is meaning behind it.

please don’t take this the wrong way, shoplifting is far from what tikkun olam stands for, what it was meant by the mystics of long ago, and what it means to judaism today. after doing some research at this website, i found that over the years and according to a gradual change in human culture, tikkun olam’s definition has evolved slightly.
here is what i’m talking about..

” …  over time tikkun olam went from being part of the religious technology of medieval mystics to a standard part of the vocabulary of contemporary North American Jews. Its goal shifted from dissolving history to advancing it. But the phrase “tikkun olam” remains connected with human responsibility for fixing what is wrong with the world. It also appears to respond to a profound sense of deep rupture in the universe, which speaks as much to the post-Holocaust era as it did in the wake of the expulsion from Spain and other medieval Jewish disasters.

Contemporary usage of the phrase shares with the rabbinic concept of “mipnei tikkun ha-olam” a concern with public policy and societal change, and with the kabbalistic notion of “tikkun” the idea that the world is profoundly broken and can be fixed only by human activity.

what drew me to this part of “bee season,” was the fascination miriam felt when everything that was once scrambled in her mind, suddenly fell into place. my own mind is transforming and growing much more at this point in my life than it has in a very long time.
i am constantly entertaining new ideas.
i am discovering my passions and not only picking my battles, but learning how to fight them. [all for the greater good, i assure you!]
i feel her “ah ha!” moment like i am experiencing it myself.  you are never too old to change your mind, to be amazed. through miriam’s open eyes, i found hope. not the hope that people will twist ideas in order to rationalize their (in this case, illegal) behavior. i found hope that i have a fighting chance to influence people around me and be the change in society that i so desperately crave. cheesy? perhaps.. but gandhi didn’t think so and isn’t that what any passionate person wants? simply to be heard and given a chance to explain their opinions without being suppressed?

tikkun olam may be traditionally associated with a singular religion, but it’s power lies in all of us and it’s message promotes enrichment to all of our lives, regardless of our individual religious or political beliefs.

it stands for kindness.
for positive societal change.
for growth.
for love.
for the fixing of the world.

how are you fixing the world?

how are you fixing the world?