Category Archives: animal rescue

The Undersea Kingdom of Secret Delights

Jack and I love our 1890s French farmhouse here in southwest Virginia; the bathroom is our least favorite feature of it. Narrow and deep, no windows, a shallow bath and behind the bath a strange wee closet, not wide enough for a gallon of bleach even. In this closet is an open cut to the crawlspace under the house.

We don’t know why. What we do know is that the cats think this space is magical, mystical, and exceeding necessary to their happiness. Ross, our trickster kitty, spent the first three weeks of his life here with us hiding down there. Molly, our matriarch, loves to spend the weekend in this space under the tub. She’s our best mouser, and we have no problem with her plying her trade down there.

Neither of us have been down there – or want to, thanks all the same–but sometimes we hear the pitter patter of vermin feet coming up through the heating vents. So do the cats because (clever things that they are) they dash not to the vent but to the bathroom door.

We can tell the progress of the cats once they access the closet, by assorted bangings in the pipes that connect to the dishwasher and washing machine. Also some mewing coming up a couple of the heating vents.

They can’t get into the heating vents, so we don’t worry about them getting stuck or roasted down there. They CAN get out through the basement hatch, as we discovered one day when Punk clambored up the basement stairs, looking smug and dusty at the same time.

So sure, they’re going after the mice, but I like to think they have a whole kingdom set up down there, a kind of a cool cat night club, complete with speakers, a roulette table, strobe lighting, and of course a fully stocked milk bar. They all go down at the same time after all, and sometimes I swear I catch a whiff of catnip smoke. Well, they’re all of age.

In fact, if they’re playing poker, that would explain why for the past three days Ross has let Molly eat his wet breakfast. He’s in debt up to his whisker lickins.

It’s a good alternative to letting them play outside, sending the kitties to the undersea kingdom of secret delights. I just hope the place doesn’t get raided. What would the neighbors think?

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Filed under animal rescue, humor, Life reflections, small town USA, Wendy Welch

The Monday Book: THE SINGING TREE by Kate Seredy

This YA novel is actually the sequel to a famous children’s classic called The Good Master. Kate and Jansci are cousins introduced in that book, when Kate is sent to live with her father’s brother’s family because she’s a spoiled city girl who has been ill.

The Singing Tree is a much deeper book, detailing the experiences of the Hungarian farmers during World War I. The book deals in childlike innocence with topics such as anti-Jewish sentiment in Hungary, the power grab of Austria, the terrible opening of the war, and how Hungarians and Germans set themselves up for future enmity.

The farm where Marton Nagy (the good master) keeps his family safe, and later shelters neighbors who lose their farms, and then houses Russian prisoners of war who work the farm while he is in the army, and finally takes in a passel of German refugee children, is a big happy place. Part of why I like this book is its sappy “Sound of Music” plot twists. (For one example, a stray cat having kittens makes Kate detour the farm wagon to an army field hospital, where missing Uncle Marton is discovered as an amnesia patient. I know, right? Eye rolling.)

And yet throughout the book are these amazing moments of writing, where true horror is simply spoken out by the beloved characters in heartbreaking poetic ways. Marton tells his family the story of Christmas 2015, when soldiers on each side of the trench separating them from killing each other the next day began lighting candles.

Light a candle for Christmas Eve, men whispered and their very words seemed to turn into tiny stars as dozens and dozens, then hundreds of candles came forth from the knapsacks to be lighted and stuck in the snow…..

Kate sighed, a long, tremulous sigh: Oh that was beautiful! What happened after?

The candles burned down, Kate, and the–darkness closed in again. Let those who made war heard the story of what happened after. Let them see.” He lifted his arm and covered his eyes.

Lots of characters fill out the pages and the plot in lovely ways, like Uncle Moses the shopkeeper and Sergei the head of the Russian prisoners, and Mother, who is described in the title. She is the tree that shelters what turns out to be more than twenty people from five nationalities on their farm. Unbelievable, except, in Seredy’s masterful style, it is.

I loved this book as a child and found additional meaning to it as an adult. Give it a read.

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Filed under animal rescue, book reviews, Life reflections, reading, Wendy Welch, what's on your bedside table, writing, YA fiction