You, Ken-Tu, And The Mockingbird

You, Ken-Tu, And The Mockingbird

~~ Originally published in my column “Beyond The Comfort Zone” within NCRA’s Journal of Court Reporting, JCR
By Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved

Some days are not dull. I swear my life could be a sitcom. This is only one gem when silliness seemed to unfold at record pace.

I view many ‘life lessons’ as I read forums and e-mails from court reporters and reporting students. Respectfully, I share my life lesson below.

My sister-in-law appeared with nephews and skateboarding teens. She needed help closing her car’s trunk because the key had broken inside the lock.

(Schools were closed for the swine flu. Locally, skateboarding kids gathered in ‘teen pods’ [my term] – pretending to cough on each other, while laughing at ‘the’ adults.) That is the moment a cat appeared from the heavens on her car roof as we worked to help her close the trunk, so she could drive home.

In the driveway, a nephew gasped and pointed, “Hey! Where did that cat come from? It catapulted from the sky!”

The cat was bleeding with multiple fresh wounds on both sides of its neck and back.

Then the cat raced into our garage. Immediately, ‘cat’ sat with its front paws pointed ‘to’ the exact spot where [then] husband said a few hours earlier, “I wish I could do something about that mouse in the garage!”

That first night, still in the garage, I sat with him.  The cat placed a warm, dead mouse near my feet. How do I know? I picked it up.  Yes, eugh.

He did not understand any words except “stop that.”  I did not want to name him Stop That.

I spoke to him saying, “You-ken-tu” and “He-ken-tu” as I observed the cat, considered adopting this wounded animal. Perhaps someone was missing their pet?  I named the cat Ken-Tu.

The vet shared Ken-Tu is eight years old and had been “homeless at least one year – possibly more, based upon deformed ears, ear mites and bulbous tumor that exploded, creating a cauliflower ear.” He also shared that the cat had old wounds, scars, and had been used “in fights.”  The vet said solemnly, “Based on what I see – NO one is looking for ‘this’ cat.”  Of course, I hugged the new cat in our family.  Ken-Tu ‘healed’ in the garage (post a huge vet bill).

Years ago, I volunteered with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, SVDP, as a caseworker. I also volunteered to assist in the initial organization of a new no-kill animal shelter (rescuing wild and abandoned animals) and a new women’s shelter. I learned many ‘life lessons’.

Each event was a teacher, to me.

For years, I filled my car for families, children, rest homes, churches, and hospitals helping a wide area. I then delivered donations and offerings to individuals and churches.

(Also, I learned that damaged clothing, items, could be donated to the State hospital.  There, long-term patients were rewarded for positive behavior in the psych ward.  Items that needed repairing were ‘repaired’ by other patients learning ‘life skills’.  When ‘fixed’, those items were placed in the hospital thrift store. Positive behavior was rewarded with coupons.  Coupons presented new gifts for the patients. To me, win/win!  I added the State hospital and their staff to the list. We had great fun.)  Life lessons were plentiful …

The weekend I’m documenting with Ken-Tu, I was assisting my cat Chicos, a special spirit, who was in kidney failure for eight months. I softly teased people that I was the hand-maiden who shared food in syringes and “closed the deal.” (We have rituals; cats love rituals.) I administered IV subcu fluids, as needed. I knew that Chicos and I were rounding another one-way corner.

The court reporters and students whom I privately tutored and coached reached out to me. I know Chicos’ life was extended as others shared their personal experiences and their wisdom.

Soon on a Sunday, we decided to bring Ken-Tu into the humble house, which already had two cats and one 70-pound, two-year old dog (all rescued animals). Ken-Tu was in the laundry room, snarling as needed. At 17 pounds – our ‘starving kitty’ was a force. (Because of abuse – with little provocation – he swung overhand.)

That afternoon – just prior to bringing the cat ‘in’ from the outdoors – my husband went to the store. Upon each return, I know he usually rushes in with the groceries. In my worry that he would trip over Ken-Tu (who was passionately vaulting head first into the laundry door to get back into the garage) – I opened the laundry room door to avoid a collision with then husband and this cat.

Thus, silliness begins.

Ken-Tu sprinted through the garage to the front yard. Husband stopped, his arms loaded with groceries.

I immediately went after Ken-Tu, but I’m not as fast as the mockingbird in our front yard. (Within the garage, Ken-Tu stood on a car roof looking through the window at that bird. The bird flew by the window and appeared to be well aware that a cat was watching.  Oh yes.)

Immediately, the mockingbird began diving Ken-Tu’s head, Beak first. I headed for ‘escaped’ cat, avoiding all eye contact with husband.

The cat darts for cover – in the neighbor’s large hedges. Husband was cussing. It’s Texas hot; he immediately departed for Lowe’s – “to return later.” Husband drove off; did not look back.

With my arms outstretched, I called Ken-Tu. The mockingbird never dove for me but flushed the cat out of the neighbor’s hedges. The cat scampered, low to the ground – racing into my yard, and  under our hedges. As I tried to retrieve this cat, Ken-Tu accurately swatted me.

In realtime, I remembered that neighbors might be watching – I’m in my short shorts bent over this cat in my front yard. I can just imagine someone saying, “Yes, and she hit that kitty.” (No one could see the scratches ‘leaking’ small amounts of blood.)

I refrained from hitting the cat, which was swinging overhand with two paws after he rolled in dirt around all hedges.

I refocused on trying to coax cat back into our garage – until my meter goes off – and then I’m done.

I lowered the garage door to the height a ‘starving’ cat could return to his food. Done. I returned into house. The kung-fu kitty was on its own.

Soon, I feel guilty.  I sit in an uncomfortable lawn chair within my garage, reading my JCR, Journal of Court Reporting, calling Ken-Tu until ‘that’ becomes silly.

The entire time, I can tell exactly where Ken-Tu was because of the mockingbird and its shrieks. That bird was working to injure that cat – feathers flew.

Later, I heard the garage open; husband does not immediately enter. When he did, this husband was ‘not’ happy.

Red-faced, slowly (perhaps to contain anger?) he asked, “Did you know the mockingbird was in the garage when I pulled my car in?”

Me: “WHAT!?”

Husband: “Yes, dear, it was in, flying all over the garage.”

Me: “That can’t be. I left the garage door cracked just a little.”

He: “Then that bird followed Ken-Tu.  The cat was lying on his towel licking himself. The bird was flying into the walls and the ceiling. When I opened the door, it became trapped within the small space between the garage door and ceiling.”

Me: “WHAT!?”

He: “Yes, then – I had to get a broom.”

Me: “WHAT!?” (I could not keep a straight face.)

He: “The bird was frantic. It was throwing itself around, hurting itself.”

Me: “Really???”

He: “So, I had to use the broom. Open the door to the side yard.  Move the mower and yard equipment. And sweep that bird out the side door – not an easy job – as it became more frantic.”

Me: “Maybe that bird will move? Where’s Ken-Tu?”

He: “Asleep in the garage. What the hell were you thinking?”

Ken-Tu strolled in, as if on cue, moved to the dining room and began pre-emptive screaming. If something looked at him, Ken-Tu screamed.

And the large dog? You don’t want to know.

Soon Ken-Tu moved into the bedroom. Woah, daddy! Did kitty spit and hair fly.

But as life rolled itself forward, events calmed down. Ken-Tu now spends his time in the dead armadillo pose.

As we prepare for the holidays, I wish you great peace and the ability to laugh at some of your/our silliness. I know ‘you-ken-tu’ grow from life’s lessons.

The day before I submitted this series, Chicos died in my arms.

I want to share with you that I continue to learn multiple lessons from this one question: “Is my life better from this experience?”

My answer today is ‘yes’ regarding Chicos and yes, Ken-Tu.

And the mockingbird? It’s back – singing, not screaming, perched on the garage roof.

Now I ask you, “What makes your experiences and your life lessons better?”

About Monette:   Monette Benoit, an experienced 35+ year court reporter, has taught multiple theories, all academics, speed classes, and 225-homeroom within NCRA-approved schools and community college.  Daughter of educators, Monette understands challenges in our multi-faceted, growing industry.

In 1993, she CART captioned for a Deaf mass, San Antonio, Texas. Wonderful opportunities presented from Big D, Little D, Oral Deaf, HOH, hard-of-hearing individuals – special moments.

Monette has worked with thousands of professionals, students, instructors.  She’s worked to create new court reporting programs, worked with federal grants, assisted instructors in developing curriculum for in-class and online students. Years ago, she was named the Court Reporting Whisperer by CR students and reporters.

Her confidential tutoring, coaching, has assisted thousands to advance with specific, custom-designed guidance!

Monette’s Musings is an informative, motivational blog for busy individuals seeking to create success –and– to enjoy this special path. Monette’s goal IS your success.

An American RealTime/Captioning Services, LLC:    Monette may be contacted –   Blog:

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