The Sunday cat: Iris!

Brave Iris, a Bengal kitty cat,  in the cockpit of a Cessna 172:

Sweet Capt Jim, Iris’s human companion, saw concerns about the noise and has given her ear muffs:

And for  Iris and a seal watching one another, try this:

Fact for the day: Beguinages

File this under “stuff I didn’t know”. A fascinating bit of women’s history (from CNN’s travel section, amazingly enough):

centuries ago, this hamlet in Leuven — a university town, 20 miles east of Brussels — was a beguinage, a sort of commune for unmarried, religiously-inclined women known as beguines (pronounced Bay-Gueens). Beguines — most likely derived from the Flemish word beghen, which means to pray — were women in the Low Countries who, beginning in the 12th century, chose to live neither under the care of a man nor the vows of the church. Theirs was, in essence, a feminist movement and its remarkable architectural legacy is still evident in cities across the Netherlands and Belgium….Beguinages were home to generations of religious women who sought to live a more independent life than that of women who married against their will. They made their homes, catered to the sick and poor, and sought to serve God without separating from the rest of the world. As Catholic women devoted to prayer and good work, beguines lived simply, wore loose robes and headwear similar to nuns’ habits. But nuns they were definitely not. Beguines took no religious vows. They could leave and marry, if they chose. They could own property and took no alms. Women of all classes were welcomed. They carried on professions, often in the textile industry. They elected women to be leaders — Grand Dames — and each Grand Dame was often assisted by an elected council. Each beguine was expected to support herself and make a tangible contribution to the beguinage, either through labor or rent income.

Thanks, Jender-Parents!