ysabetwordsmith: Victor Frankenstein in his fancy clothes (Frankenstein)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the July 1, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer, [personal profile] technoshaman, and [personal profile] ellenmillion. It also fills the "hunger / starvation" square in my 6-10-14 card for the [community profile] hc_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Frankenstein's Family.

"Dance on the Table"

As autumn crept down
from the mountains
into the valleys,
the weather cooled.

By mid-September, the mice
were seeking warmer shelter and
creeping into Castle Frankenstein.

Victor grumbled about them,
and Igor did what he could, but
there were only so many places
they could safely set traps or bait
with a baby in the household.

One day, three mice scampered
across the kitchen table
in the middle of breakfast.

Victor shouted and swung at them
with his knife, but Adam just giggled
and jangled his ring of skeleton keys.

"This is getting ridiculous," Victor muttered.

"Well, there's not much we can do,"
Igor said. "Come outside and
help me with the gardens."

So Victor manned the rake
and kept an eye on Adam
as the toddler pretended to dig
in flowerbeds going to seed.

Igor used a sharp knife to cut
the heavy heads off the sunflowers,
stringing them up so they could dry.

From the lane, Igor could hear
the slow clopping of hooves and
then the creak of a heavy wagon
as Lóránt the woodcutter
pulled in with a load of logs.

Suddenly there came a yell.
"Victor! Igor! I hit your cat!"

"What cat?" said Igor
at the same time Victor said,
"We don't have a cat."

But they went to look anyway,
and sure enough, there was Lóránt
wringing his hands over a limp blob of fur.

"I was coming alongside the woodpile,
and suddenly there it was," Lóránt said
as his horse snorted restlessly in the harness.
"I'm terribly sorry about this."

"It's not our cat," Victor said,
but he knelt to examine it anyway.

"Când pisica nu-i acasă,
şoarecii joacă pe masă,"

Lóránt said, shaking his head.
"When the cat is not at home,
the mice dance on the table."

Victor lifted his head
to glare at the woodcutter.

"That actually happened this morning,"
Igor said to Lóránt, muffling a chuckle.
Adam clung to his father's shoulder.
"Best not to joke about it."

The cat gave a plaintive miauuu.

"Well, that's definitely broken,"
Victor said, frowning over the left hindleg.

"Can you fix it?" Lóránt asked.

"Possibly. Probably," Victor said.
"I can at least take it inside and try."

So they took the cat into Victor's lab,
where the doctor set and splinted
the broken hindleg and then plied
the cat with a few drops of laudanum.

Then Lóránt came into the castle
with his arms crossed over his chest.
"Sorry to bother you again," he said,
"but we seem to have another issue."

"What's that?" Victor asked.

The woodcutter unbuttoned his vest
to reveal three tiny kittens,
their eyes and ears not yet open.

"I heard mewing, and when I moved
part of the woodpile, I found these,"
Lóránt said. "I guess this is why
she didn't want me near there."

"Oh, dear," Victor said.

"You should keep them,"
Lóránt advised him.
"Every castle needs its cats."

"I'd better get a basket," Igor said.

When he came back with the basket
and a towel for lining the bottom,
Victor and Lóránt were both
leaning over the little cat family.

"She weighs almost nothing,"
Victor said. "I think she's starving."

"But she's huge," Lóránt protested.

"It's all hair," Victor said.
The cat had a long white coat
blotched with gray and peach,
surrounding a pair of peridot eyes.
"Underneath, there's nothing to her."

"Everything she had went into the kittens,"
Igor guessed as he put them in the basket.
There was a brown tabby with white feet,
a gray tabby with white feet,
and a gray tortoiseshell.

"That makes sense," Victor said.
Gently he prodded the cat's belly, revealing
three damp circles around her teats.
"She doesn't seem to have much milk left."

"I can compensate for that," Igor said.
He sent Lóránt back outside
to restack the woodpile
and finish unloading the wagon,
then headed to the kitchen himself.

There Igor boiled and chopped an egg,
then diced some leftover chicken
for the mother cat, which he fed to her
in tiny portions to account for the starvation.

He heated a bit of goat's milk
and fed that to the kittens
by dipping the end of a rag in it.

"Don't get too attached," Victor advised.
"We'll need to find homes for them later."

"Mmm," Igor said noncommittally.
"You don't like cats?"

"I've never been fond," Victor admitted
as he watched Igor's careful ministrations.

They weren't sure any of that would work,
but it did, and by the end of the week
the cat had stopped hissing at them
and begun to look forward to feeding time.

Igor could hear the clack-clunk
of the splint tapping against the ground
as she crept around the castle.

She did not catch anything, but
the mice became more circumspect
and stopped trying to dance on the table,
which made Victor happier.

Igor mashed cottage cheese
into hamburger, and blended
minced lamb with rice, and
let the cat lick bacon grease
from a big kitchen spoon.

He even weighed her every other day
to make sure she was gaining weight.
"There now, we'll set you right in no time,"
Igor assured her, stroking the soft fur.

"See, see!" Adam said
one afternoon, pointing at
the fluffy cat as she slunk
along the shadowed walls.

"Yes, I see," Igor said.
"The kitty is hunting mice."

"Pretty kitty," Adam said.

"Yes, she is," Igor agreed.
He picked up a leatherbound book
with gilt letters across the cover.
"Come here and I will read to you
from Cabinet des Fées."

Adam let go the coffee table
and crawled over to his father,
quickly scrambling into Igor's lap.
At this age, Adam could never
get enough attention.

Igor opened the book and
began reading aloud in his
marginally adequate French.
Victor's accent was much better,
but Igor needed the practice more,
so he made a point of reading
a story to Adam each day.

The cat stopped patrolling for mice
and turned her ears toward them,
the tip of her voluminous tail
wrapping around her toes.

Igor turned the page, then carefully
sounded out an unfamiliar word.
"What do you suppose this
could mean?" he asked Adam.

The cat crept forward,
one velvet paw at a time
(and then the click of the splint)
until she curled up under the chair.

The next morning, Victor came to Igor
as he was flaking fish into a bowl of oatmeal
and said, "Your cat is missing again."

"Our cat, and her name is Woodsmoke,"
Igor said absently, heading for the basket.

"You named her?" Victor said.
"You weren't supposed to get attached."

"Too late," Igor said.
The basket was indeed empty.
"Did you look for them?"

Woodsmoke had moved her kittens
twice before, once into the woodbin and
once into the corner near the kitchen stove.

They weren't in either place now.
Their eyes had opened, so they were
starting to creep around which made Igor
worry about stepping on them.

"I looked," Victor said,
trailing behind Igor.
"I couldn't find them."

"Well, try listening," Igor said.
He cocked his head but
couldn't hear mewing anywhere.

They searched for a while,
and then Igor decided
that he should check on Adam.

There in the crib lay the missing kittens
and the soundly sleeping toddler,
with the mother cat curled protectively
around all of them together.

As Igor tiptoed closer, Woodsmoke
opened one slitted green eye.
She regarded him for a long moment,
then huffed and went back to sleep.

"I found our kitties,"
Igor told Victor,
waving from the door.

"I suppose we can wait
until they wake up to move them,"
Victor said, watching them sleep.

An hour later, the cats were back
in their basket, with the mother
happily digging into her bowl of fish
while Igor set the kitchen table.

After breakfast, Igor brought in
some of the ripe grapes
to start a batch of jelly.

Then Victor looked up from shelling
sunflower seeds into a large bowl
and said, "Where's Adam?"

"He's playing by the --" Igor began,
only to discover that Adam was not
playing by the hearth anymore.

They hustled from room to room,
calling his name and not finding him,
until Victor laughed and said,
"Here he is."

Adam was in the basket with the cats.

"I suppose we have cats now,"
Victor conceded.

"I suppose we do," Igor said.

Victor wrapped an arm around him
and pulled him close, saying,
"Ah well, it's better than having
mice dance on the table."

* * *


Sunflowers and grapes are among the Romanian crops harvested in late summer-early autumn. Learn how to harvest sunflower seeds and make grape jelly.

Adam is 15 months old in mid-September. He likes to play with tools and he's talking more. He craves attention, using speech and humor to get it. Books are beginning to interest him.

Farm cats can be good mousers. They are not feral like many strays, but neither are they as friendly as most housecats. They're working animals with a serious job to do. There are tips for adopting a stray cat and gaining its trust.

See Woodsmoke the woodpile cat and her three kittens Tiger, Apricot, and Ash.

Când pisica nu-i acasă , şoarecii joacă pe masă.
Translation: "When the cat is not at home the mice dance on the table."
-- Romanian Proverbs

miauuu -- the sound a cat makes, meow!
-- Romanian Grammar

Homemade cat food includes a variety of recipes using such ingredients as chicken, lamb, egg, and rice.

Fairytales have a rich history in France and other places, including this famous collection:
Chevalier de Mayer, ed. Cabinet des Fées ou Collection Choisie des Contes des Fees et Autres Contes Merveilleux. Paris & Amsterdam, 1785.

Reading to toddlers is a wonderful family experience. Here are some tips for enjoying books with your little ones.

Lovely story

Date: 2014-11-22 04:42 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
And as always, I think I spend as long following the links out of pure curiosity!

Now i need to explain to two cats and a dog why they get dry food. They're a little perturbed, as one of them was on my lap when I clicked on the pet food recipes.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-11-22 07:05 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
What a beautiful blue-cream girl!

We have two cats who look sort of wood-grained: Winnie, who is a brindle tortie, and Catgirl, who has the dilute version. They are probably related, as both were trapped in our back yard, but they are neither sibs (as far as we know) nor mother and daughter. Kitsune is Catgirl's littermate, a torbie calico.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-11-22 07:15 am (UTC)
chanter_greenie: a slightly faded picture of a three-legged torbie kitty cat (supermodel kitty)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
AWWWW kitties! *gestures at icon* Daisy, the Queen Elizabeth-esque torbie tripod in the image was a shelter friend and favorite of mine in college who I still regret not being able to adopt. She's now a much-loved house cat, at home with a fellow volunteer. :)

I could go on with kitty squee - longhair mom! Keetens! but I won't bore folks. :) Instead, I'll say that flustered Lóránt is endearing! He's all worried and fretful (I bet somebody has his own cats at home), and then he does the humane thing and my respect for him grows. Not every person would've rescued tiny kits, mewing or otherwise. I like him.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2014-11-23 04:03 am (UTC)
chanter_greenie: a slightly faded picture of a three-legged torbie kitty cat (supermodel kitty)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
Re: connections to the land and the critters upon it: Good point. I immediately thought of many a known deer hunter around here going all gruffly goofy over a friendly dog or cat. XD

Re: Daisy girl: Pretty purr motor lap cat kitty, and she never said 'meow'. It was always this adorable, regal little 'mow' chirp. <3

Re: criteria for punching your hero card: I wish I could live in one of your universes, sometimes.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-11-23 03:08 am (UTC)
kyleri: (bumper)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
...we have a calico Momma cat (though she's short-haired, and not dilute) who has three kittens (though they're marmalade, black-and-white tux, and white with black tail and cap) and, while she's been safe inside and well-fed through this pregnancy, she came inside (after years of resisting it) when she couldn't quite feed her last litter and we had to take over for her.

So yeah...this one struck close to home.

Gotta go pet our three little well-fed babies and their tiny-but-well-fed Momma now.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-27 02:31 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Cabinet des Fées ou Collection Choisie des Contes des Fees et Autres Contes Merveilleux

Yaknow, I think I've almost got enough French to manage Paris or someplace like that... comoposing is an entirely different matter, but I read that almost right off and was able to figure out "Contes" from context... :D

"Mayer". And published in Amsterdam as well as Paris. He wouldn't happen to be from Alsace or Lorraine, would he? Because that certainly *sounds* German... :)

*smiles at Woodsmoke bringing Victor around* Cats *do* that. Even if they don't have a diesel purr. :)

It occurs to me that the generation that will be born in a few years will not know what us old f...ogies mean when we say "diesel kitty"... :)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-11-22 04:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] je-reviens.livejournal.com
AWWWWWW! He saved the kitties!!! yay!!!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-09-14 01:13 am (UTC)
pinkrangerv: White Hispanic female, with brown hair, light skin, and green eyes, against a background of blue arcane symbols (Default)
From: [personal profile] pinkrangerv
My baby brother got adopted by our cat when he was little, too. We had to leave her behind when we moved--she had a whole acre of foresty hunting grounds to play in, so it wasn't fair to bring her to a quarter-acre of desert--but cats tend to be firm about adopting whoever they like.

dogs have owners, cats have staff...

Date: 2017-03-13 01:54 am (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
>> cats tend to be firm about adopting whoever they like. <<

> And they often gravitate to people who dislike cats, too. <

The "conventional wisdom" says they do that because people who dislike them *don't* stare at them or reach to pet them, and thus seem less threatening.

That may be true, and in play, but I'm convinced there are pheromones involved, at least for those of us who have both affinity for and allergy to felines. I think the allergic give off a pheromone that attracts the cat somehow. It's especially sad in cases like mine where the affinity is there, but I *have* to make breathing a priority, and my cat allergy manifests via seizing-up lungs, not sniffles and red eyes. :-(

Thoroughly enjoyed looking at the adorable, hypoallergenic pictures though!

hypoallergenic pets

Date: 2017-03-13 03:19 am (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
>> I think I've mentioned that T-America is beginning to explore robopets with Microfyne fur. <<

I don't recall whether it's been explicitly mentioned or not, but I had hopeful thoughts in that direction. Or for something like the purring fur thing that Miles Vorkosigan found on his first assignment to Earth (Brothers in Arms). I don't recall whether Microfyne is considered gizmotronic or not; in any case I'd think there might be several favorable possibilities to explore. :-)


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

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