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This Weeks Story
January 5, 2002

"The Muggins Shuffle"
Creamsicle coat,
Staccato bark,
Her name is Muggins.
She'll teach ya a new dance step
You're not likely to forget.

A feline haunting from


"The Muggins Shuffle"
from Liz
Hailing From: Los Angeles, California
Where it Happened: Our Old House in La Canada, California

This story is by no means scary, but it definitely involves a ghost. The ghost of a beloved family member. To give you a little background, my parents moved to Saudi Arabia when I was about 11. Being the youngest of five, I was the only one that moved with them. To try and make this huge transition easier, my parents decided to get me a cat. Well, Saudi Arabia is rife with wild cats. The story has it that, over the years, many of the expatriates that moved there didn't want to be bothered with the hassle of bringing their cats back to their country of origin, so they'd just set them loose. The Saudis, as a rule, are afraid of cats and tend to leave them alone. Imagine how, over forty or so years, the cat population would multiply.

There was a lady that lived in the old town that would find kittens, clean them up, give them all their shots and find homes for them. My parents contacted her and brought home a small white and orange kitten as a surprise for me. I named her after the town we lived in, and where she was found, Yanbu, but called her Muggins.

Muggins and I were inseparable for many years. When I graduated high school and moved back to the States, my parents made arrangements to ship Muggins to me. She soon became the queen of the neighborhood. Even the Doberman next door bowed to her superior fighting skills. Muggins had this very distinctive meow, it was staccato, almost a bark. She also had this irritating habit of trying to trip you when you walked in the front door. She'd dash from underneath the dining room table right for your ankles. You would then do some fancy footwork to avoid landing flat on your face. We named that dance the "Muggins Shuffle".

I lost Muggins when I was 22. She took on a pack of coyotes and didn't survive. We found bits of her fur in a neighbor's front yard I was, as you can imagine, distraught. This cat had been with me for half of my life. About two weeks after her death, as I was standing outside, at dusk, I heard Muggins. There was no doubt about it in my mind. I said nothing to my family as I was sure they would attribute it to my grief. When I turned and walked into the house, I saw a white flash dart from under the dining room table. Instinctively, I did the Shuffle and I began to wonder if I was losing my mind.

I would hear her "bark" or see her just about every time I went to the house. About three months after the first incident, I was over visiting my parents and we were sitting at the dining room table when my father walked in. I about lost it when I saw my father do the Muggins Shuffle. I asked him what he was doing. He looked at me rather sheepishly, and said, "You are going to think I'm losing my mind, but I see and hear Muggins all the time."

I figured it was time to confess.

Over the years, Muggins sightings occurred on a regular basis. Even neighbors would ask if we'd gotten a cat similar to Muggins because they heard that distinctive "barking". My father passed away in 1994 and my mother moved out of that house a year ago. It had been slated for demolition, but the city stopped the project. The house still stands, abandoned.

Waxing nostalgic, I took my new fiancée over to the old house a few days ago. We got out of the car and walked to the door. We weren't there five minutes when Muggins started chastising me for being gone so long! My fiancée was concerned that someone had abandoned a cat and wanted to look for it. I figured I had better tell him the same story I've just shared with you.

Great story, Liz, to start out 2002! Thank you for your submittal. Personally, I am quite fond of cats, but have some family members who are allergic -- I suppose in their case, they would add a new twist to the Muggins Shuffle!

I would like to take this moment and wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year. This year, pick out a few people around you and make it your goal to do nice things for them, keep 'em smilin'.

One of the galleries I present online has a new Thomas Kinkade just released that I would like for you to see. I'll present it below and if you are interested you can visit their Web site at: --or-- -- okay, here is the new painting:


Pretty neat, isn't it? Meanwhile, take care and be well. As Bill and Ted would say, "Be excellent to each other!"




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