Archive for May, 2013

The Wild

Peter Elbling's The Vinegar Jonesy Chronicles


Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinegar blog. Peter Elbling.I’ve been betrayed!  Mr. V often walks around with a sour expression on his face moaning about this or griping about that. I’m used to it.  His favorite word is Quiet!  He says it about everything.  He says it to the kettle when it boils and to people on TV. He even says it to me! If Mr. V doesn’t like something, it’s Quiet! Quiet! Quiet!  But I just found out that underneath all that Mr. V is a softie!  A real softie! Here’s how I know.

Sparky the squirrel. Mr. Vinegar's CatastropheOne morning I was feeling hungry so I went to my food bowl in the kitchen.  At one end of the kitchen is my bowl and at the other end is the door to the outside.  As I got to the food bowl I glanced up and I saw Mr. V crouched in the doorway feeding one of those flying rats with the fluffy tail – A Squirrel!  He was talking to it, saying all the little cutie pie things he usually says to me!  It made me want to vomit!  If anything deserved a good dose of vinegar it’s those bug-eyed monsters.

 Well, I couldn’t have that. Not in my house!  So I charged it.  Oooo, you should have seen that little #&% go.  Up onto the railing, and from there onto the wall, and then across to the tree at the end of the porch.  And I was right behind him.  I would have gotten him too if Mr. V hadn’t interfered!  No! Jonesy!  No! What do you think you’re doing?  I’m trying to catch that diseased piece of vermin is what I’m doing. And I would have caught him too if you hadn’t interfered!

Oh, was he mad!  No! he kept saying to me.  Bad Boy! Bad Boy!  I couldn’t believe it! Me?  Bad Boy?  He hurt me real bad.  That was when I realized.  Mr. V is a softie!   He likes squirrels.  He’s got to be a softie to like squirrels.  Next he’ll be having a possum over to tea.  Well, this changes everything!  This is war!


Mr. Vinégar

Peter Elbling is Sour Mr. VinegarJonesy in Mr. Vinegar's Catastrophe.A recent article stated that cats kill billions of mice, rats, squirrels, rabbits, and birds every year in the United States.  Feral and strays cats were mainly responsible but pets, such as Jonesy did their fair share too.  I read that a collar with a bell could reduce this statistic by a third so I bought a collar with a bell and put it around Jonesy’s neck.  It was a breakaway collar in case he caught himself climbing a tree. 

Within a few days I saw the collar dangling on nearby branch like a piece of discarded clothing after a fraternity party.  I bought another collar. It ended up the same way.  I gave up on the collars.  I remembered that the article had also suggested that if cats were kept indoors, the killings would be reduced by a third.  But keeping Jonesy indoors was much easier said than done for he had found ways of getting out, such as jumping from his lookout in the bathroom window to the stairs below, which is a good ten feet if not more.  So other than admonishing him sternly I wasn’t sure what else I could do.

It was distressing, however, to know that I was harboring a killer of little critters since I have always considered myself at one with nature, enjoying creatures great and small as long as they didn’t leave a mess, make a noise, and kept their distance from me.  Recently, however, my resolution was severely tested.

PossumI had just entered my apartment when I saw a creature with an enormous stiff tail disappear into a hole in the side of my building – right by my bathroom!  Horrific stories of unsuspecting people sitting on the toilet suddenly having their private parts snapped at by an emerging crocodile, snake, or other hideous creature now flooded my mind. I immediately called the landlord and asked him if rats were included in the rent.  The landlord replied that it was not a rat but rather a possum which by law, neither he nor I, nor anyone else could remove.

I thought possums were shy creatures but this particular possum must have known the law for it delighted in flaunting its territorial rights at me.  Returning home one night, I was about to climb the stairs leading to my apartment when I was confronted with a pair of bright eyes staring at me out of the darkness.  The fact that the eyes were at head height was more than a little alarming because I couldn’t see how large the creature was.  We stared at one another for a few seconds before the possum turned around, waddled up the stairs, and disappeared into the wall.  

This happened several times and on each occasion the possum sat there almost daring me to mount the stairs before it was ready to leave.  I must admit I encouraged Jonesy to try his hunting ability on the possum, but although Jonesy was adventurous he was no fool.  The possum was twice his size and its claws three times as large as his.

Our confrontations came to an end when the possum was killed by a passing car.   I then discovered it had been a female for it had left an offspring behind.  Now I was able to persuade the landlord to remove it for fear that Jonesy or something else–I was deliberately vague—might take matters into their own hands.



Conversations With Jonesy

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles


Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar BlogI’m not a particularly vocal person.  I communicate with a few friends and my co-workers. Needless to say, my communications with Jonesy are also somewhat limited. There’s the plaintive meow when he wants attention, the short brusque meow when he’s hungry, and the long wailing – I’m going to be guillotined – when I take him to the vet.  There is one occasion however, when he’s very talkative and it was my own softheartedness that caused it.

When Jonesy was a kitten I was told that if he started to whine when I went out I shouldn’t pay attention to it for he was bound to stop in time. But his whining was so pitiful – I’m sure he practiced – that on several occasions I went back to comfort him.  This was a mistake for then he took to howling whenever I left.  He’s continued to do that but has since topped this behavior with something not so embarrassing but even more bizarre.

Waiting like a well trained dog

Waiting like a well trained dog

The first time it happened I was going to a gathering of stamp collectors a short distance from my apartment.  Jonesy ran beside me slipping from one car to another.  I kept telling him to go home but he ignored me.  When I reached my destination I told him he could come in but he was understandably apprehensive of the number of people so he stayed outside.  Since I was only two blocks from my apartment I reasoned Jonesy would make his way home as soon as he got bored. You can imagine my surprise when I left three hours later to find Jonesy waiting for me like a well-trained dog.

Since then Jonesy has often accompanied me to the edge of his territory, which is about a block in each direction.  If I continue past that he will howl at my back for a couple of minutes and then wait in the general vicinity for my return. I was initially charmed by this act of devotion but it has since proved to be a curse.  On more than one occasion I have returned home hours later having taken a completely different route, and it was only after I had gotten into bed that I suddenly remembered him.  Then I’ve had to get up, dress, and rush outside to find him.  Inevitably he is in the same place where I left him.  It’s now that he talks non-stop, loudly meowing as if inquiring where I’ve been, what I did, who I was with, what did they say, and from his tone admonishing me for not coming home sooner. It’s bad enough to have to wander about in the dead of night in my dressing gown and slippers looking for him, but lately his haranguing has become so bad that I’ve taken to carrying a little note book so I can jot down where I left him in the first place and thus avoid these embarrassing moments.



Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinégar blog. Peter Elbling.Of course that’s when I talk to him because that’s about the only time I can get a word in edgewise.  When I see him I’ll come running over and I’ll say low, but loud enough for him to hear, Hey it’s me!   He’ll turn around and say, casually, Hey, Jonesy.   Then I rub against his legs asking how he’s been and so forth and so on. He pets me and we walk back to the apartment together.   We keep it just between ourselves, you know, two dudes saying, Hi.   I’d love to have longer conversations with him but he just doesn’t listen.  It can be very frustrating.



For example, last week I came rushing in and I said, I’ve got to get to the window. There’s a hurt crow out there somewhere and I want to nail it. He said, Do you want something to eat?  No! I said, not now. See the crows on the wire?  I just came around the corner when they started cawing like crazy.  I bought some fish, he said.  Do you want some?  He obviously wasn’t listening to a word I was saying.  Later!  I snapped.  Crows only caw like that when one of them is hurt. It’s probably broken a wing or something. If I find him he’s toast.  

Mr. V picked me up.  What are you doing? I shouted. PUT ME DOOOOOWN!  He said, Don’t lean out the window like that, you’ll fall.  Are you kidding me? Me? Fall? LET GO OF ME!  Of course by that time the crows had long gone.

He might as well have just held up a sign saying, FLY AWAY! CAT ON THE PROWL!  Now you understand why I have such a hard time talking to him.  Oh, I know he does his best, but sometimes I have to wonder if he’s going deaf or if he’s just plain stupid.

The Rat

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles


Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinégar blog. Peter Elbling.The rat houseTwo nights ago, I slipped out just before Mr. V went to bed.  The dogs had all been for their walks, so the streets were empty.  At the bottom of the stairs I saw Prince.  Wanna have some fun? He said.  Sure, I said.  I followed him down the alley till we came to a house that was being demolished.  Prince climbed a ladder to the roof so I did the same.  Prince began grooming himself so I knew it would be a while before anything happened.  One by one the TVs went off and soon it was just the streetlamps and the stars.  Every now and then a car sped by but other than that it was quiet.

Suddenly, I heard a movement on the ground below.  From out of the wood pile beneath us came two small rats.  They sniffed the air and then scurried along the edge of the fence towards the garbage cans.  One can was on its side, the garbage spilling onto the sidewalk.  The rats disappeared inside the can.  I thought of all the times I had played with the toy mice Mr. V had given me but that was nothing like this. This was the real thing.  And I was pumped.  After a moment another rat came out of the wood pile and hurried after the other two.  I heard them banging about in the can.  Prince slipped down the ladder and crouched behind a large piece of wood.  His tail flicked back and forth.  I was right with him.

Our bodies were rigid.  My eyes, my nose, my ears – every part of me was alive!  The noises in the can stopped.  A rat peeked out and sniffed the air.  Our tails stilled.  The rat acted like it knew something was up but it didn’t know what.  I wanted to kill it.  I didn’t know why but I did.  The rat kept sniffing the air.  Another rat came out and crouched beside the first.  They kept moving backwards and forwards, sniffing and twisting but they didn’t know whether to move or stay where they were.  The third rat joined them.  Perhaps they thought there was safety in numbers because all of a sudden they broke into a run.  They were halfway across the little patch of ground hugging the fence when Prince sprang.  

The lead rat tried to turn but it bumped into the other two. Prince smacked him with his paw sending him spinning, and then he pounced on it.  I didn’t know what he did after that because I was flying at the other two.  One of them tried to bite me but I caught it between my paws, sank my teeth into its throat, and shook it.  Five seconds and it was all over.  I looked up panting and said proudly, I killed it!  Prince looked at me then at my rat and said. What did you do that for?  I shrugged.  I thought that’s what I was supposed to do.  No, Prince said, Didn’t your mother teach you anything?

It was only then that I saw that his rat was still alive on the ground in front of him.  It tried to scoot away.  Prince caught it with his right paw, pulled it back, batted it to his left paw, then back to his right, and then back and forth a couple more times.  See, he said, This is the fun part. Now what are you going to play with for the rest of the night?  I didn’t know what to say so I didn’t say anything.  No worries, Prince said.  Take it back to Mr. V as a present.  Show him what you’re made of.

If you can’t remember who Prince is, click HERE to read the blog where Prince is introduced.

To read about when Prince and Jonesy first met click HERE.


Mr. Vinégar

Peter Elbling is Sour Mr. VinégarThe ratYesterday morning began in a most unpleasant manner.  As I was leaving for our monthly “new business meeting” at Globe and Maps Inc., I felt something squishy beneath my right foot.  Leaping aside I saw that I had trodden on a dead rat!  It took all of my self-control not to throw up.  Then I saw Jonesy hovering nearby.  Some experts believe that cats bring dead rodents to their owners to impress them, and others think it’s to show their appreciation.  I believe Jonesy did it to amuse himself for I swear he was grinning.  Whatever the reason I found it disgusting and I told Jonesy so in no uncertain terms.  I was in no mood to deal with the rat then and there, and so I hurried off intending to dispose of it later, and prayed that it was not an omen for the day to come.

The meeting began with the reading of the minutes and the reporting of the quarterly, which were woefully low.  At last,  it was time for new business.  My last suggestion, printing a map of the Sahara desert on an electric blanket had turned into such a fiasco that I was determined to make amends.  I had worked on my new idea for several weeks, made numerous prototypes and was convinced that if the company got behind it our fortunes would be reversed.  Get ready for greatness, I said lifting the cloth to reveal my surprise.  I suggest that we print a map of a different country on each sheet of a toilet roll.

Country toilet paperI am always conscious of the waves of jealousy emanating from my co-workers toward me whenever I’ve presented my ideas – after all it is my ideas which keeps the company afloat – so I was disappointed but not surprised at the tepid response. However, I was amazed at the hostility and downright ignorance that was hurled in my direction as soon as I had finished.  Ms. Snickety thought the idea disgusting and sordid, and said she would never be able to look me in the eye again.  Ms. Graben said that she didn’t want her bottom stained all the colors of the rainbow. Mr. Chang wondered if people would scroll through the roll looking for countries they hated before using it.  Mr. Karl didn’t say anything but when we took a vote he added his name to the nays.

In response, I told my co-workers that not only was I appalled at their narrow-mindedness, but also that their comments were more of a reflection of themselves, rather than on the product.  I would have continued but they all rose from the table muttering that they had work to do.  Mr. Karl picked up the sample toilet roll.  I’m going to pay someone back for that curry I ate last night, he said, heading for the rest room.  Mr. Gupta glared at him.  For some reason that had reminded me of the omen I had seen earlier, and I inadvertently blurted out, The rat!  We don’t eat rats, Ms. Gupta snapped.  Before I could explain she continued, In fact it’s the opposite. There’s a temple in Northern India where people worship rats.  I’ve often thought of going on a pilgrimage there myself.  Well, I said, if it doesn’t matter whether the rat is dead or alive you don’t have to go to Northern India. There’s one outside my door you’re more than welcome to.  And so ended another day at Globes and Maps almost as soon as it had begun.  Sometimes I wonder whether it’s all worth it and if I shouldn’t take my talents elsewhere.

To see what Mr. Vinégar’s coworkers look like watch the video Mr. Vinégar and The Ants by clicking HERE. Or you can read the blog “The Name” to see pictures of his coworkers by clicking HERE.