Such A Curious Cat

October 24, 2010 § 5 Comments

Readers:  Brace yourself for a twist.  Leila, I hope you’re sitting down.  After five months of caring for our youngest of nineteen, Matilda the Cat, light has been cast on the fact that Matilda is not affectionate in her ways because of a womanly disposition; that her dainty size and even daintier eating habits are not a result of some female kitten-ness.  Our recent epiphany, born from our neglect of having ever taken time to ‘pop the hood,’ is that she is not a she at all!  Matilda is in fact a boy; news which carries a flurry of giggles and jokes in a house full of eighteen children.  To quickly restore the dignity and manhood of our beloved cat, we called an ‘emergency renaming panel’ in the playroom, and after thirty minutes of calming the hiss of bunk suggestions, we arrived to a very fitting conclusion.  With the former Matilda held high above the twinkling children, our petite royal highness received the esteemed name of Simba Kadogo, meaning Little Lion.  So please help us in welcoming this… revision.

In regard to an animal of very different proportion, Uncle Charles quietly pulled me aside as I held my morning cup of coffee and said, “Uncle, an elephant has died in forest very near.  We go?”  The answer was of course a sweeping yes for many reasons.  I was curious if it had been poached, what ailment would kill an elephant otherwise (being no major predators), and lastly what would come of the ivory, where it was sold, how much it would sell for, etc.  It was an excursion of the mind before it was an excursion at all!

The forester who led us was very kind to do so.  Taking us to the site of a dead elephant apparently runs some legal fringe, and by that I think what he meant to say was that it was ‘illegal,’ but most great adventures toe this line, so onward!  The only thing larger than the elephant itself was the smell, and approaching it downwind let us believe we were close well before we were.  When we did finally spot it among a grouping of tall trees, in the shade of a thick canopy, it was hard at first to believe was an elephant.   It seemed too big to be an animal at all; more like a boulder.

It was a bull, roughly twenty years old, which thankfully died of natural cause, possibly from consuming poisonous plants.  The foresters had removed the ivory to sell in support of the forest services effort to protect living elephants from poachers, or at least that’s the standing theory; another line that can be toed.  He estimated that the sale of twenty-two pounds of ivory might yield $1000, estimating that this elephant might have had fifty pounds of ivory, so roughly $2,300.  He added a stern disclaimer that he was very removed from the process and was just lending an estimate.  The rest of the elephant, he explained, would take its place in the natural course of the forest.

Which got me to thinking, what happens with the bones?  I asked the forester how long it would take for the elephant to be consumed by the host of critters eating it.  He estimated a week, so on a whim I made a bid on the skeleton, stressing my desire for the skull if nothing else.  At fifty dollars for the whole shabengo, the guard accepted my offer and said it would be difficult to secure the skeleton in it’s entirety but for that price he may be able to deliver.  Thus, I may soon be the proud donor of a full male elephant skeleton to our new school and / or library!  A Smithsonian touch to our muddy little heaven.

Beyond critters large and small, life is rolling along quite marvelously.  The children are all well and wily as ever, finishing up the school year in two weeks, which is hard to believe.  The seasons here are hardly plural, but I am looking forward to sharing some traditions from home with the kids, particularly Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Turkeys are much easier to come by than costume supplies.  That said, I envious of those enjoying football games and fall colors, gearing up to hit the first snow in the mountains.  Be grateful for these things!

At the end of December / beginning of the new year, I am excited to announce that I will be joining Flying Kites Adventure Challenges in climbing Mount Kilimanjaro!  It will be an incredible adventure through Kenya and Tanzania, with time at the orphanage, in Nairobi, Arusha, the possibility of safari and a trip to the coast, and of course the ascent of 19,298 feet, where the sun glints off glaciers and the night’s sky is without a sliver of light. Was that vivid enough?  Basically, if you’re looking for a life changing adventure or chance to be part of this amazing story, look into either this trek (with me!) or others in future.  It’s an extraordinary chance to travel on the inside track, and help a worthy cause in the process!

In response to my last post, I received offers from three different individuals aspiring to sponsor the education of children in need.  To you, I send my respect and love and gratitude, and for the kids receiving this gift and redeemed self-esteem, I will not even attempt to express their emotion.  You will receive letters that will build houses in your heart!

No matter what you are doing today, go forth and be glorious!  You are a gift.



A Rabbit Noticed My Condition


I was sad one day and went for a walk;

I sat in a field.


A rabbit noticed my condition and

came near.


It often does not take more than that to help at times—


to just be close to creatures who

are so full of knowing,

so full of love

that they don’t



they just gaze with


marvelous understanding.


St. John of the Cross




§ 5 Responses to Such A Curious Cat

  • Here’s to Simba Kadogo !!! And wooo wooo wooo re the elephant skeleton that will “grace” the school science lab ??? Way to go, Brian. “Science is everywhere!” Let the learning continue …….. Love from Aunite Tamia Can’t wait ’til March !

  • Jo Lochabay says:

    Hi Brian
    Thank you so much for sharing your amazing experiences. Your blogs transform me and renew my mind everyday. Take care -we miss you!

  • bethany parks says:

    you are doing Kili??? hmmmmmm………..

  • Roberta says:

    Hi Brian, Loved your latest adventure report. Matilda waltzed into Matt/Lion King. Funny how cats look the same worlds apart.
    I felt I could “smell” the elephant the way you described the trek, good thinking to turn the death into something educational.
    Take care, our best, Roberta & Terry

  • The exquisite photograph of Miriam with her porridge makes her look so wistful,sad,lovely,content. Hold her close, Bri.( Tell her some knitting supplies are on the way via Leila/Mama.) We’re all excited for you and Killy !!!!!!

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