Sunday, October 21, 2018

Story: The Cats and their Friends


Once upon a time, there were two cats who lived in the forest. The cats enjoyed milk in their tea, but one day they were out of milk.

And so they went to visit the cow.

Along the way, they saw the Beast! He was a horrible monster who liked to eat little cats, chomping them with his big yellow teeth and smacking his fat orange lips.

And so the two cats ran as fast as they could to get away from the Beast.

“Run if you want, little cats!” shouted the Beast. “But I see you. I’m going to go to your house and wait for you there. Then I will eat you for my supper.”

The cats kept running until they reached the cow’s house.

“Greetings to you both,” said the cow. “Have you come for some milk?”

“Yes and no,” gasped the cats. “We were coming for milk, but we ran into the Beast, and now he’s gone to our house and he’s waiting for us there.”

“Have no fear,” said the cow. “I will go with you, and we’ll fight the Beast together. Come on!”

And so the cow and the two cats traveled through the forest together.

Along the path, they met a dog. “Greetings to you all!” said the dog. “Where are you going in such a hurry today?”

The cow said, “I am going with these cats to fight the Beast!”

“I will go with you,” said the dog. “Maybe I can help!”

And so the dog, the cow, and the two cats traveled through the forest together.

Along the path, they met a crow. “Greetings to you all!” said the crow. “Where are you going in such a hurry today?”

The dog said, “I am going with this cow and these cats to fight the Beast!”

“I will go with you,” said the crow. “Maybe I can help!”

And so the crow, the dog, the cow, and the two cats traveled through the forest together.

Along the path, they met a big heap of ashes. “Greetings to you all!” said the ashes. “Where are you going in such a hurry today?”

The crow said, “I am going with this dog and this cow and these cats to fight the Beast!”

“We will go with you,” said the ashes. “Maybe we can help!”

And so the ashes, the crow, the dog, the cow, and the two cats traveled through the forest together.

Along the path, they met a packet of needles. “Greetings to you all!” said the needles. “Where are you going in such a hurry today?”

The ashes said, “We are going with this crow and this dog and this cow and these cats to fight the Beast!”

“We will go with you,” said the needles. “Maybe we can help!”

And so the needles, the ashes, the crow, the dog, the cow, and the two cats traveled through the forest together.

Along the path, they met a snake. “Greetings to you all!” said the snake. “Where are you going in such a hurry today?”

The needles said, “We are going with these ashes and this crow and this dog and this cow and these cats to fight the Beast!”

“I will go with you,” said the snake. “Maybe I can help!”

And so the snake, the needles, the ashes, the crow, the dog, the cow, and the two cats traveled through the forest together.

Along the path, they met a bowl full of dried beans. “Greetings to you all!” said the beans. “Where are you going in such a hurry today?”

The snake said, “I am going with these needles and these ashes and this crow and this dog and this cow and these cats to fight the Beast!”

“We will go with you,” said the beans. “Maybe we can help!”

And so the beans, the snake, the needles, the ashes, the crow, the dog, the cow, and the two cats traveled through the forest together.

When they reached the cats’ house, the cow told them all what to do. “Dog, you wait in the yard. Crow, you hide in the water pitcher. Ashes, you climb up on the cupboard. Needles, you slide into the bed. Snake, you get into the breadbox. Beans, you wait at the top of the stairs, and I’ll wait at the bottom. Now go to your stations, quietly, so the Beast does not hear you come in.” Then the cow told the cats what to do.

When everyone was in place, the cats jumped up in the window. “Oh Beast!” shouted the cats. “Aren’t you thirsty?”

The Beast realized he was very thirsty, so he ran to grab the water jug, and the crow bit him.

“Oh Beast!” shouted the cats. “Aren’t you hungry?”

The Beast realized he was very hungry, so he ran to get some bread from the breadbox, and the snake stung him.

“Oh Beast!” shouted the cats. “Aren’t you sleepy?”

The Beast realized he was very sleepy, so he ran to lie down on the bed, and the needles stabbed him.

“Oh Beast!” shouted the cats. “Can’t you see us on the cupboard?”

The Beast ran to look up at the cupboard, and the ashes fell down into his eyes.

“Oh Beast!” shouted the cats. “Can’t you see us at the top of the stairs?”

The Beast ran to the top of the stairs, and the beans made his stumble and fall.

“Oh no!” shouted the Beast.

Then he landed on the horns of the cow.

“Oh no!” shouted the Beast.

Then the cow tossed the Beast over to the dog.

“Oh no!” shouted the Beast.

Then the dog pounced on the Beast and ate him all up.

And that was the end of the Beast.

After the excitement was over, the cats and their friends then enjoyed a nice cup of tea, and they all lived happily ever after.


Author's Notes. This is a folktale from Tibet. I have kept all the characters the same as in the original, and the plot is exactly the same too. What I tried to do with my story was to bring out the repetition and cumulative chain-tale quality, showing how the collection of characters grows one by one by one, and how they each have their role to play in defeating the monster. The original story had a chain of characters, but it was not told in a cumulative way, listing the whole chain every time a new item is added.

In the original version, the cats need butter for their tea. You can read about yak-butter tea from Tibet at Wikipedia. Also, the monster was called "Handre" in the original version, but I have not been able to find any other information about this Tibetan monster beyond this story.

This type of story is classified as ATU 210 Rooster, Hen, Duck, Pin, and Needle. It is a folktale type that you can find in Europe (Brothers Grimm) and also in Asia. For an example from India, see The Sparrow's Revenge. My guess is that, as with so many of these chain tales, the story started in India and then spread east (you can find many Indian folktales retold in Tibet), and that it also spread west to Europe. I especially like the way the story mixes animate and inanimate characters!

BibliographyThe Two Little Cats, from Tibetan Folk Tales by A.L. Shelton.

Image Information. Cat figurine at Etsy.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Famous Last Words: I passed!

When I record these points in my spreadsheet (replicating the Canvas Gradebook), I will have 320 points, which means I have passed the class. That is such a relief! I'm at my dad's right now, and I never know what my visits will be like (I had some time to work on class stuff this morning after all!), and I also never know what is coming in the future. So now even if things just got all out of control for the final weeks of the semester, that's okay: because I passed the class! I'll still keep doing work when/where I can... but passing the class was my starting goal. And I made it! Yay!

Plus, I have had an absolute blast doing this, taking time to learn about new things I never would have learned about otherwise! For example, today for my Project assignment I did research into the story of Samael and his son, and I totally hit the JACKPOT in terms of the research, finding not only good information about the Sufi version which I already knew, but even a modern Palestinian folktale that reproduces the same story in the old Sufi version. That was amazing, and I'll use it for some kind of chain tale experiment, maybe even later this semester. Then I did Wikipedia Trails for both Samael and Iblis, and they were both very eye-opening. And, as usual, I ended up with another book to read, this time a book by Rudolf Steiner on eurhythmy.

Then something really cool happened at Twitter: I was seriously frustrated with this Canvas error because I got no response from the Helpdesk, so I had to do all my own troubleshooting, but as a result I actually figured out the problem, which is an old Symantec certificate that, as of this week, Chrome no longer trusts... and then, when I posted about that at Twitter, Brian Whitmer wrote me back, and it turns out the Redirect Tool and the whole web-apps project was his project from back in the day. How cool is that??? He is also going to check in with the people at Instructure to make sure they get the security certificate updated since he knows exactly how that project was originally set up. I wonder if I will ever get to meet Brian in person; he is clearly such a great guy, and his current work is very inspiring: Cough-Drop. Every Voice Should Be Heard.




And here's a great graphic for all learning, not just AAC: