The Ides of January, Looking For The Spring Time, The Midwinter Cat Festival, Moses and Sophia the 1st , Decisions on War, Fallen Heroes, “Gone To Grave Yards Everywhere”.

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

As we reach January 15th another milestone slips by. With barely one snow fall even worth thinking about so far this winter, now at its nastiest weather ever, winter can only be 1 ½ months. YEAH!! November’s already gone, and 14 nights ago as that yesterday and tomorrow traded places and left today when that sun came up, December had disappeared into the fog of history along with the whole year of 2011, never again to see the light of day.

So all that’s left is the last half of January and February, and February’s a short month, just 29 days this year. It’s 44 days to spring, cause everybody knows that come March 1st it’s SPRING! I love Springtime . Winters not yet really kicked in and I’m already loving Spring. Oh well, that’s just the way it works every year. it just does, loving spring is always good, especially in January, when the snow’s been so minimum this far into the winter time. When the inches of snow can be measured by fingers, and have fingers left, ya just don’t have much snow for the 15th day of January.

With the small amount of snow that has fallen within the last few days, my North Deck Cats finally have enough snow for their Annual Midwinter Cat Festival. Now if you’ve not been fortunate enough to have ever attended a Midwinter Cat Festival, you’ve missed a lot. Most festivals tend to be of the same mode. An underlying theme of some kind. What’s the theme doesn’t matter, just as long as a theme exist. Vendors pedaling fried food and belt buckles are a main stay for many festivals. Queens are also a must, an absolute must . For many, a festival without a queen is like salt without pepper, or a flag without a pole.

This is not the case with the Annual Midwinter Cat Festival. There is no similarity between a normal festival you may be accustom to attending and the Midwinter Cat Festival. Now for those of you who may not be familiar with cats, did you notice that I didn’t say “own a cat”, for a very good reason. Ya can’t “own” a cat. It’s impossible to own a cat, the cats won’t let ya own ‘em. They just won’t, no matter what ya think, ya never get to own a cat. They won’t allow it. Cats don’t get owned by anybody.

Now for you cat lover out there, thinking “I sure own all my cats”. Tell ya what, just get ‘em all in the same place, if ya can, and try to get ‘em all to go in the same direction at the same time. It can’t be done. Ya can’t herd cats. You may suggest, but not herd cats. Cats seldom take suggestions.

Why even when Moses lead the Children of Israel from the land of Egypt, the biggest problem facing Moses was not Pharaoh’s Army chasing ‘em, that matter had already been worked out with God, it was the cats. Yeah, I’m telling ya, it was the cats. The plan was that everybody, both people and animals, would all walk in the same direction and follow Moses toward the Red Sea, and you remember what happened from the movie. The only problem was somebody forgot to tell the cats, or the cats didn’t listen or pay attention, which some, to this very day, think is the case.

They went every which way you can imagine, those cats. Nobody could control ‘em. Finally in desperation, Moses asked God to give him a little help in dealing with the cats. And so God sent Moses a Calico Cat, a cat destined to be the spokscat for all those cats fleeing the land of Egypt within the confines of the Exodus.

It was in just such an environment that Moses met Sophia, The First. A special gift from God. A cat to control all other cats forever. If ya look close, in the movie, as Moses walks across the bottom of the Red Sea with all the water being held back, on both sides, walking right there along side of Moses, walking with swagger, that’s Sophia, the 1st .

The events held annually at the Midwinter Cat Festival are as varied as the personalities of the cats. The most favorite event of all is the timed EastWing Maple Tree Climb. Both the individual and team climbing are fiercely competitive. Of course the bucking dog riding contest is always a fun event for the cats, not as much so for the 2girldogs or Bentley.

Other events such as Cat Snow Rolling and Cat Back Sliding on the pool ice make for a fun Midwinter Festival for the North Side Cats. As the competition gets underway, the cats bring a whole new meaning to the term “tail spin”. Both the stock cat races and the demolition derby are fun things to see. One of my personal favorites is the cat hide & seek. Of course the cat poker tournament always draws a crowd. It’s fun to see a cat with anything more than a pair of two’s. The ears go back and the tail starts to wag. The faster the tail, the better the hand. Saw on spectator get beat up pretty bad while standing too close to a poker playing cat who’d just been dealt four of a kind.

One thing the Midwinter Cat Festival does have in common with the summer festivals is the parade. The parade route thru Downtown Kitty City is the climax to end the Midwinter Cat Festival. Unlike other parades, there’s no floats, no marching bands, no candy throwing groups walking along the way. It’s just cats on parade. Cats doing what cats do best, just showing off. Each trying to out-strut the other. And the first place winner in the parade, gets to strut up front for next years parade.

The one thing cats have in common with elephants is the cats too never forget. In fact, thousands of years ago the Egyptian People worshiped cats as Gods. The cats have never forgotten. Don’t take my word for it, just ask Sophia. Be warned, she may want you to kiss her ring.

I just thought of a really good trivia question. Lay this on somebody who thinks they’re a smarty pants, and see what happens. The question in: How many US Presidents have been elected in a leap year? The answer is: All of ‘em. Shewwww. Maybe it’s not the best trivia question in the whole world, but it just popped into my mind and I thought I’d share it with ya.

And so it was on the 18th day of December 2011, the last official soldier left Iraq soil. It will be debated in the future if the move was correct. Of the soldiers who visit the EastWing, to a person, they disagree with the Commander in Chief on the decision to pull out of Iraq in the manner in which we did. We’ll see. The soldiers who visit the EastWing, they’ve all been in the desert of Iraq or the mountains of Afghanistan , and for some, well some’ve been to both wars. Some have been twice. they’re not the decision makers, they’re the grunts in the sand, they’ve walked in harm’s way. They’re the ones who burned up in the desert sun wearing the full body armor, and froze at night or guard duty, with that same full body armor.

The true defenders of freedom, not those who put on the suit and tie and go to work each day in Washington DC. It’s a different world from the fighters to the political decision makers. Would maybe be a better world if those roles were reversed. When ya stop and think about it, all wars are fought by older men, sending younger men to their death in battle. What if the roles reversed? Fewer battles?

When I was a young man, we wondered “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” And so now after 50 years I’ve truly learned . “Gone to grave yards everywhere.” 4,500 graves from the desert sands of just Iraq alone, and the war goes on in Afghanistan,

All the while a local Hero from my little city is added to the body count. I know the father and also knew the son from the time he was a little boy. And for what purpose his death? “Gone to Grave Yards Everywhere”.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the EastWing, The Ides of January, Looking For The Spring Time, The Midwinter Cat Festival, Moses and Sophia the 1st , Decisions on War, Fallen Heroes, “Gone To Grave Yards Everywhere”.

I wish you well.