New Cat Scratcher … Sir?

On my way home tonight I stopped into PetSmart to see if I could find a cat scratcher that wasn’t ridiculously expensive, something I wasn’t all that confident in accomplishing. Though I have managed to trim them on occasion, it’s not the easiest of endeavors to convince Bella to let me clip her nails and they are getting a little long again as she’s clicking on the hardwood now as if she’s taken up tap dancing so I thought a new scratcher would at least help her with some nail maintenance. I know she wants another one, a stand-up model (I do have a nice large well used wood framed one with cat scratch cardboard inside that sits flat on the floor but it’s not quite the same) as she keeps trying to use this old one and well, a couple of short naked two by fours nailed together with a carpet top don’t really do the trick. It’s also Bella’s way I think, with the repeated attempts, to say “yo, knucklehead, human, can ya see what I’m tryin’ to do here on a couple of short naked two by fours nailed together with a carpet top?! Are ya getting’ my freakin’ point … numbnuts?!”

She’s right, as you can see it doesn’t really have any cat scratchedyness to it anymore as almost all the rope is gone or fallen to the bottom like scratchy rope shorts around its ankle. I only keep it for a couple of reasons. First is a sentimental one. It’s one of my earliest and favorite pictures of Shoes from when he was kitten, one of my bestest of pals who passed away 6 six years ago now, clutching onto it in its newer days days to give me a stare and a sniff while we were getting to know each other and second, I keep it on the floor at the end of the bed as it’s kind of become a pretty good lean to assist for old man stand ups. You see I stand UP from my bed as I don’t have a bedframe, just my box spring and mattress on the floor (I don’t like bed frames … got’s to be proactive on possible spots for monsters) so the assist can be welcome, not always necessary though, I’m not quite there yet in my oldness thank you, but welcome on occasion, breathy exhales sometimes included.

Anyway, as I was looking wide raised eyebrow eyed at price tags of cat seats and cat condo’s that can also serve as scratchers on the big shelves or a few smaller things in an aisle across from them on the regular shelves a pretty young woman passed to step into the next aisle for canned cat food, the aisle that has the Wellness Brand by the way, which is pretty good stuff and correspondingly expensive.

I found two possible scratchers but held the thought for the moment, debating 30 bucks versus 40, as the pretty young woman buying some canned food suddenly reminded me that I should do the same before that reminder fell out of the back of my head. PetSmart has a few things the grocery store doesn’t carry so I then passed her, reminder still holding, on my way a couple of aisles down to where the Friskies are located but, knowing that she was stocking up the Wellness stuff I almost felt guilty and a bad cat dad for going with the way cheaper stuff. I was even worried she’d notice disapprovingly.  

After I grabbed a few cans of what I can’t find at the grocery store that my girls like (a slightly more top shelf Friskies at least to ease my new found bad cat dad guilt) I made my way back to the scratchers aisle to make a decision on that 30 versus 40 bucks but accidentally came up one aisle short (because of course I did) and stepped right into the one that the pretty young woman was standing at the end of, still, though unknowingly, shaming me as she loaded a cardboard flat with the Wellness food, and I almost bumped into her.

“Whoa, shit, sorry, wrong aisle, my bad”

“No problem” she said

Now suddenly it dawned me that this all could have looked as if I had done it intentionally. See a pretty young woman pass me when, suddenly, it seems I need to walk past HER and then come back again only to “accidentally” step into her aisle and almost bump into her?

Future reference. I never do anything like that intentionally, I really only ever do things like that accidentally if at all. In general, if I happen to note, wherever I may be, that there might be some younger woman there, like in this case, who is attractive I also then, almost immediately, note the operative word in this sentence, “younger”, and that I’m most probably old enough to be her dad, a dad who would probably kick my ass at any of this whole notion of noting things. So, quick admiration and acknowledgement of pretty and I’m done with the thought. Then it’s just to possibly some accidental awkwardness.  

She of course ended up at the checkout line in front of me and as she was getting ready to leave, bag in hand full of her good cat mom Wellness Brand food and as I was slowly putting my cat scratcher down for the cashier while holding back ever so slightly on the Friskies she looked at me and said.

“Have a good night Sir”

“You as well” I replied

Damn … and yeah … she called me “Sir” to which I had three thoughts.

1. Sigh.

2. If she did for some reason think I was actually trying to “check her out” or even hit on her, the “Sir” was very subtly and very well played, very well played indeed. Bravo lady!

3. Sigh.

I think I might just be leaning a little more heavily on that old Shoes cat scratcher at the end of the bed for the stand ups this evening while pausing the TV or in the middle of the night when I have to pee a million times it seems, sometimes even when I don’t have to but just think I do.

Me 2: “Well is that right now … is that what you’re thinking … Sir?”

Me 1: “Shut up Me 2 … fucker.”

Baseball Geek

I popped my head into K-104’s Scotty Mac’s office on Friday to say both “Hey” and “Good Morning” while I toasted a couple of slices of rye bread that would eventually become my open faced tuna sandwich breakfast but with new lettuce and tomato that I had just picked up at Price Chopper on my way in (I was actually pretty excited for this … yeah, I know, a little pathetic). I love toaster ovens, love all things toasted, would be lost at a place that didn’t have one in its kitchen to the point where I would just have to buy one myself even with then having to share it with folks who might not be as mindful and respectful of toast.

He said “so did you see the latest moves …” and I immediately cut him off before he could continue “Don’t tell me … this is my Christmas in July just minus annoying radio promotions, trade deadline day … MLB dot com awaits my toasted tuna my friend so zip it”

He’s a baseball guy like me though, as a New York Yankees fan, he is always a bit more enthusiastic and optimistic than I could ever be with my Pirates.

It was trade deadline day and it had been a pretty eventful week leading up to it but there were still more deals to be made and eyebrows to be raised.

I’ve always gotten excited around trade deadline day as it is just a unique baseball thing, not that other sports don’t have the trades of players, they do, but not like baseball where there is a romance to them, a sudden urgency of that clock that’s been well known ticking and a storied history that you can look back on and maybe raise more eyebrows as to how they worked out. Did they help that one team down the stretch, as is always the intention, did the other side land that one seemingly unknown guy who would go on to glory in a new uniform begging questions in hindsight, did it actually work out for both teams and fill, exactly, the needs that both teams needed filling? Or were they lopsided or nearsighted looking back at them years later? Nolan Ryan always comes to mind for me.

Now last season, 2020, was an aberration, an asterisk, no trade deadline excitement, a season I paid absolutely no attention to, the only season in all my years as a baseball fan that I didn’t watch even a single inning of any game for the first time since I was a kid, even just an accidental portion of an any game with those dreaded NY teams on local TV I was forced to endure growing up living in this NY place.

When MLB TV, which I have paid for, for the past however many years it’s been available to be able to watch my Pirates, twenty years or so now, justifying the cost with a don’t buy this or don’t buy that at that moment whether real need or not, when they offered the possibility of me watching at a reduced rate due to Covid, a shortened season or to use the discount next year, this one, I opted for this one as opposed to the attempt to present a 60 game schedule then as an actual baseball season with actual yearly awards and actual champions that they say counted. Sorry, they didn’t … not to me.

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I’ve been a baseball geek ever since my Grandad taught me how to curse and throw shit, just words in my case but actual physical things for Grandad, at the tube when Grandma would allow me in the living room with him, the only grandkid she would while she sat lording in her kitchen. He’d been to Forbes field, my Bucco fan field of dreams, maybe not at the penultimate moment in 1964 but he’d been there and watched games from whatever section he was able to sneak into when he was younger. He was my reason Pirates guy.

I know “geek” isn’t usually associated with sports. That’s more a science or math or book smart or sci-fi thing or getting your ass handed to you in High School by those who would regret, years later, their shortsighted judgements, but I was a baseball geek, a studied baseball geek and well rounded. I could talk books and sports in the same sentence. I would even find myself later on writing stare at shoes well wrought self important poems in college while still checking pages for the Steelers latest victory story or my Buccos latest continued disappointment.  And I think my 8 Yahoo fantasy baseball teams with rosters I set on a daily basis and waiver wires that I get so much joy in scouring will attest to my geekines or maybe the need to get out of the house more often.

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I have difficulty with our current state of baseball though, the new things Rob Manfred finds to be important at the big league level and the changes in the minors that are being tested. Mostly dumb things, things that slap at the nature of the game. I am a purist, I guess, that dying guy who still wants current baseball to stack up with old baseball, the only sport that really has a history that you can compare. He had how many hits then?  He had how many home runs then, how many RBI’s? Did Jacob DeGrom’s ERA really rival 1968? Is somebody going to break a record that’s stood for 50 years or is there that one moment where some obscure guy does something also obscure that’s never been done in the long storied history of the game. It’s the only sport that really allows such.

A guy on second base in extra’s (an absolute embarrassment), 7 inning games, 3 batter minimums, pitch clocks in the minors and moving the rubber back some and all the other attempts at “improving” the game just screws that all up, it messes with the numbers, messes with that nature, messes with that shared history. And don’t get me started on Statcast, that glorified tape measure and protractor and speed gun that is constantly being shoved down our throats in every MLB dot com article.

Was it a hit? Just simply was it a hit? I don’t give a shit about how fast it went out there. I can guarantee you that there will never come a day where I will ask about or even be remotely curious about the exit velocity of any hit … ever. Just did it fall in? Did it make its beautiful way to finding a spot to bounce between fielders? Did it just get past and outstretched diving glove in the infield for a single or did it roll to the wall for a double or maybe bounce around in weird ways to become a triple with a head first slide? When that outfielder fielded it what were the new calculations he had to make now that everything had changed as he tossed back into the infield? That’s it. No useless numbers attached. No angles or silly catch probabilities or ground traveled distances. Just was it a hit maybe with a scorched or a dribbled or a Texas leagued attached?

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Grandad stood up, arms wide and turned and spun to whoever would look at him in the crowd like some baseball Jesus and said “I told you he would pop out, I told you he would pop out, he always pops out, he always blanking pops out!”

That was at the game (games, it was a scheduled doubleheader, a real one with 9 innings for both) at Shea so many years ago with my Dad and Grandad and that was Frank Taveras, our light hitting shortstop who, yes, always popped out.

You had that baseball Jesus thing down Grandad though not without with some slinking embarrassment from Dad and I.

That’s my go-to, that go-to memory, when it comes to baseball. Yes, I played the game, had my moments, played against a stacked club in my senior year of High School that some statcast nonsense would have given us a really improbable percentage of win, but a three hitter from me and an unbeatable John Belushi later and we took the two of three without a third. But Grandad? Arms wide and Jesus angry? That was baseball.

I even met John Candelaria that day when my homemade jersey bearing his name came to the attention of two small, and I mean small excited Mom and Dad’s (no idea where his height came from, and he is a tall guy, other than maybe a stacking of Mom and Dad’s genes on top of each other) in the filing out of fans at the two games end who made that accidental meeting happen at the player’s entrance. I was in heaven and walked away with a few signatures on my game program including Rennie Stennett and future Hall of Famer Goose Gossage in his only season with the Bucs.

Years later I would meet John Candelaria again, recount this story with a laugh and a handshake and an autograph of the Pirates Helmet I had bought that day almost 40 years ago. But it was grandad and Frank Tavares always blanking popping out that I remember the most.

I’ve always looked forward … no, don’t tell me Scotty, I want to check for myself … to the trade deadline and its deals, from the small ones to the blockbusters, so many deals and for teams that aren’t even mine, lived for the changes that happen to current rosters or future ones, to remember names that years later might become that story of the hall of famer, maybe, who was part of a now former team’s great regret.

Will all the guys my Bucco’s garnered at this year’s trading deadline pan out, will there be a future hall of famer in there? Couldn’t tell ya though ya never know.

But it’s excited reading fodder for me today over a morning’s tuna sandwich or a down the road watching and waiting to see who just might pan out out of all these names, a current and future Baseball enjoyment I just can’t put into words.

JB (Thoughts Of A Friend)

So, I don’t remember when, though it’s been quite some time now as working together goes back six years away to when I unintentionally left our common radio spot, but she told me her Mom called her Jilly Bean, possibly the sweetest, most genuine love felt nickname from a parent to a child that I’ve ever heard (and it’s a pun JB!)

From whenever that was, and it was way before the last six years apart, I’ve called her JB. She’s called me FB.

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She always thought of me and gave me first dibs on her Mom’s cookies and pastries and whatever baked wonderousness Mom would occasionally gift our way.

“FB?”

“Yeah?”

“Lemon squares”

“!!!!!!!! Loves me the Mom’s!!!”

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I kind of recall her first days at the station, group of stations, as an intern, though I couldn’t possibly tell you any specifics. I just know she was a daily welcome given, just knew she filled a room, just knew we did gigs together and I would always feel a relief when finding out she was on that remote’s ticket. Just knowing, no matter what the gig was or how it might go, that if she were there things would be done right at her insistence and laughter would happen, a lot of laughter and I looked forward to them because of.

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After my Benny passed away, my best of friend of 16 years, back in 2011, she was a one who gave me a kind word’s shoulder and hug to help me through. She knew. She also knew I had no intentions of searching out a replacement, at least not anytime soon. I mean how can ya? But a couple of months later, during one of my Pet of the Week segments on Mix 97 there came to be a kitten as that day’s star, the tiniest of things. Now some folks in the building might make their way down to the studio to meet that week’s puppy or dog, kitten or cat, sometimes rabbit or even a one time guinea pig (she gave me quite bit of laughing shit when it was discovered that I was allergic to said one time guinea pig as the right side of my face blew up like I had lost a fight, badly) but she was an always.

In traffic:

“Hey, we got stuff to do”

“It can wait. It’s Tuesday, FB’s got his Pet of the Week”.

She was always there first, damning whatever work needed to be done to hang with that week’s furry, even if only for a couple of moments.

I hold dear the fondest of memory of her stepping into the studio to stand in the back while I interviewed whoever it was from the Ulster County SPCA that had brought my latest guest, this tiny kitten on my chest, just underneath my microphone.

Mic off.

“Oh, you’re F****d”

“I know huh?”

She knew, without even thinking about my consulting my better half at the time, she knew that this tinyness on my chest was coming home with me. She knew my empty of a Benny being gone.

She smiled a “good luck” to the explaining with a wink.

Bella, that’s her name, outlasted the relationship with that better half and is still with me, 10 years later, and really, it was that exclamation of me, as JB said, being blanked, that helped me cement the notion that this little one had found a new spot in her littleness world, no matter the possible objections.

She knew.

I can never think about my years with Bella without thinking of her.

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I stayed on her good side, no matter what, even if there were a disagreement on something I deferred. You weren’t going to win an argument and not because there might be louder talk, and she could be an in your face when she wanted to be, but because she was always right, aaarrrggghhh, she was always right. She always had her points down and even if she didn’t there was no one better to fake it.

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She mentioned to me one time, about my blog and my writings, which she would read and I was so glad that she did as there are those whose opinion you value, about how I tended to start a good number of my posts with a “So” or a “Well” or a “Now”, a kind of pause followed with a comma, a comma’s breath before diving in and how this seemed a bit of a crutch. I then found myself noting this, this using of a “So” or a “Well” or a “Now” or something similar and my things got better simply from being more self aware now and not just for that one crutch (thank you JB) or sometimes I noted the use and left it in, purposely, with a thought of her and that was well before now.   

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I will miss you JB, Jill, you were light and lord knows that the world can ill afford to lose such light and that makes me angry, angering at the universe and its random and its always picking lights to dim that don’t deserve to be dimmed, especially now and you being gone isn’t fair, not just to you or your family or to friends but to the world itself.  

I don’t know where you’ve gone, none of us really know where you’ve gone but … well … it’s just not here JB, it’s just not freakin’ here.

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“That’s kinda funny”

“What’s that?”

“That a small guinea pig has your face looking all beaten up”

“Funny? Really? That’s your take on my boxer’s face?”

“Yeah (giggles)”

 “Oh sure, that’s funny lady? Very funny JB.”

Light Bulb Day

So yesterday was light bulb day here at the station (s) as our maintenance guy made his way around the building with new fluorescent bulbs, evil things that they are, to replace any that had died and gone to whatever Dante’s hell circle it is that is lit by dead fluorescent bulbs. Probably a place with IMAX sized Hieronymus Bosch paintings, except intentionally more perverse and disturbing, where the bright starkness of the light brings out even more explicit and unsettling detail than you would ever want to see but now can never be UNseen.   

I hate light bulb day.

When one or two of the devil’s light sticks go out around the building here it’s kind of a relief and makes for a much softer setting that doesn’t feel that as much of your soul is being sucked out of you (my studio, at least, is lamp-lit). But then comes Dennis, accompanied by some dark, foreboding deep bass soundtrack that makes time with his slow steps, he even seems to laugh for no reason (or he’s joking with Jimmy around the corner) as he enters the worst of spots in the building to make sure all the demonic lighting eye javelins are working at once … the Men’s room.

Stepping in there the first time after Satan’s assistant has ironically said “let there be light” when done I realize exactly why it is that of the three light bulb possibility I have in the lighting fixture in my bathroom at home that I use only one … and just a 60 watter.

No one needs to see themselves in this kind of light when looking in the mirror while washing hands, ever, especially not a guy who, as he gets older, has hair he forgets needs trimming coming from places you only noticed when you were younger in uncomfortable “can’t take my eyes off of” stares at some other old but back then guy. When you wondered exactly how eyebrows could unintentionally form points over each eye like horns (damn you Devil and your lights AND eyebrows!) how an ear could appear to be a planter of some sort of stringy exotic bush, how a nose could … no, I ain’t even going there.

And you wondered then how that some other old but back then guy didn’t notice these things and do a bit of trimming of the hedges unless, of course, he also used only one 60 watt bulb in his bathroom, or unless, of course, maybe you had somehow become him and now that younger you, on the other side of the mirror, is fixed with an uncomfortable “can’t take my eyes off of” YOU stare.   

I hate light bulb day.

Birthdays, 4th’s Of July And Small Stories

My Sis and my Mom came down from Albany this weekend to Buck’s place in Wallkill (Buck is Beck’s guy) for a little July 4th get together. Just a few folks, Buck’s son and daughter in-law, Scotty, a cousin of sorts and some friends, two other couples one of which I hadn’t met before but am so glad that I did as they were a too cool. Funny, relaxed, easy to join in conversation and share a silly story or two, especially Angie I think was her name, though I would need a few more get togethers to really remember it, newly introduced names can get lost sometimes in a just almost there kind of way, like car keys in your other hand. We, and Beck, talked of being crazy cat ladies (guys) among many other things.

And there was also Victor, Buck’s grandson, his daughter’s talkety talkety talkety 8 year old who regaled us with an 8 year old’s stories and brought us nothing but smiles while he held court on Buck’s patio pushing his baseball hat back and forth around his head. He even read us the story he wrote for Buck, who the kids call “Choppy” (don’t know where that comes from but certainly much better for Buck’s not old feeling piece of mind I’m sure, much better than Grandad or Grandpa) a one Victor bound with stapled pages about how Buck was 61 years old and was named “Choppy”, and maybe how that was even his given name if I remember the story correctly, like a Mom and a Dad would actually name their kid Choppy and how he bought what he thought was a house from three “sale guys” named Bob, Hazmat and Fart who actually tricked him into buying a spaceship instead that Choppy jumped out of after screaming “NOOOOOO!!!” when he realized he’d been had.

It was quite gripping, edge of your seat kinda stuff and reminded us of the wonders of 8 and the talkety, talkety, talkety that comes with that 8 especially from Victor who is fabulously good at the tellings. It was also illustrated by the author himself by the way, who made sure to note that on the title page, and of the reading of that page twice to us for emphasis.

Now I’ve mentioned this before, many times, but I don’t go out much, even less than the nothing that the last year and half forced us into if that is possible, perfectly happy to ignore the world if I can with only my furry girls, a few words here in the Attic, a Bucco game or some Sci-Fi on the tube, but I do truly enjoy going to Buck’s place and hanging with the gang, good food at the offering, MY gang and just sitting spinning stories and laughing sometimes at the stupidest of shit once I do decide it’s Ok to get my ass out of the house and relax in a bit of something people call being social.

Actually, when I got home tonight I saw Celie in her kitchen and when I told her of my day she said …

Celie: “You mean you weren’t here?”

Me: “No”

Celie: “All day?”

Me: “Well, not since 1p when I left”

Celie: “You mean you left the house?”

Me: “Yes”

Celie: “Oh, good. Glad you weren’t dead up there.”

Me: “Thanks, glad I wasn’t dead too”

This today also included a bit of celebration of my birthday, which was a couple of days ago on the first, a celebration that just involved some ice cream cake, candles, Victor making sure to remind me not to spit on it when I blew the candles out which I assured him I wouldn’t, discussions of Fudgie the Whale and whether Carvel still made such and a few presents.

Mom seemed excited to give me hers. Now keep in mind that she is only an in the moment anymore, I’m not really sure she even remembers where this gift came from, it’s heartbreaking, but you just try to live in that moment with her.

It was a box inside one of those cool little pouches with a pretty ribbon for the sinch squeeze at the top and I tell ya, in a million years, if anyone had asked me to guess what was in that box I wouldn’t have guessed this. It was probably something that Beck bought for her to give to me. A Day of the Dead Sugar Skull. I kinda knew what that was, but I still had to look it up just to be sure. It was a Pittsburgh Steeler one. Yeah, apparently there are those but there ain’t no guessing that is ever going to bring you to a Pittsburgh Steeler Day of the Dead Sugar Skull birthday present from a Mom. I would have only, at best, gotten to socks or a Pirates T-shirt or maybe some underwear in the guessing.

I did though try to make sure that it fended off any unwanted spirits from around Mimi’s butt … just in case of course.

Beck also gave me a present of meat, something from her and my nephews. Yes, It was a bit of a different day when it came to the pressies. A couple of steaks and some higher end hotdogs (I do love hotdogs so that one was well received) and they weren’t actually hotdogs but were “Wieners”.

I know huh? Fancy.

Victor giggling: “Wieners”

With ya Victor. If I’m 8, “wieners” is some pretty funny stuff, hell I’m 57 now and “wieners” still makes me laugh.

Victor: That’s funny that they’re called wieners. Hey Ms Becca (what he calls my Sis) where did we buy these?

Beck: At BJ’s.

We all erupted in laughter, with a quizzical Victor wondering why the hell that was so funny.

Other Victor’s from the day?

He had gone fishing with Scotty, that Buck cousin of sorts I mentioned earlier, cousin through marriage kind of thing I think, though that stuff, extended family ties and the labeling of such eventually just confuses me.

Me: How’d ya do guys?

Scotty: He was the man! Just kept catching ’em.

Beck: How many Victor?

Victor: Somewhere around more than 9.

He and his Uncle Neil braved the pool, I say braved as today was a bit on the chilly side for July. When they came in, Victor came to the blue-lipped realization that wearing a T-Shirt always seems like a good idea at first until you get out of the pool.

Neil’s wife Siobhan (the coolest of names): How was it?

Neil: (cavalierly) It was fine. Not too bad.

Victor: No words just a cold askance wet shirt raised eyebrow look that shiveringly said Uncle Neil you’re a freakin’ nut job! That was cold!!

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Victor: I’m gonna wrap a potato with potato eyes in some paper and give it to my Dad like a present.

Me: Why?

Victor: Potato eyes freak him out.

Me: Really?

Victor: Yeah.

Me: (to self) I love this kid

While he was head down in the ice cream cake he made sure I didn’t spit on in the candle blowing?

Victor: Thank you for having a birthday.

Me: Ummm … well you’re welcome my friend. I’m thankful of having a birthday as well.

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Yes, I’m thankful of birthdays Victor even if they add a new number every year that I’d prefer not to think about but sometimes they come with good days of actually getting out of the house, Pittsburgh Steeler sugar skulls, unexpected meat, new friends and funny small stories.

Cheers all,

Sharky: A Cat

I got a text from Celie not too long ago, around 5p, while I watched whatever reason has me trying to justify my newly spent 9 bucks a month for Netflix (Sweet Tooth is worth the justifying by the way, at least for now).  

It was timed 8:15 am. I got it at 4:53pm though I didn’t note the time at first, it was a just a text.

Celie: Just in case you are going anywhere Shark is under your car

Me: Ok

(Celie would eventually mention to me that she didn’t understand my response, I told her that I didn’t realize the text had been sent 9 hours earlier but didn’t arrive until then and I also didn’t know Shark was gone)

Not too much later when I actually did note the time of the text I remembered a morning.

I had gone downstairs to throw my once a week in the washer while Cele, who was there with the gang, made a point to not allow me to fold what was done in the dryer of her and Matt’s stuff.

Celie: You don’t need to do that … grab, grab, grab.

Me: But I actually like folding clothes, it’s ok (I really do like folding clothes)

Celie: It’s good …. grab, grab, grab

It almost makes her mad I think so I cut whatever could be losses and let her grab, grab, grab.

I then threw my one stuff set in the washer and stepped into the kitchen around a barking Louie and a bouncing Chi Chi and slumbering others, sorry, a slumbering others AND a Georgia back flop belly wait.

“Aaaaahhh, love ya Georgia, but ya gotta stop this back flop belly thing girlfriend. I’m an old dude and all this bending for belly rubs every time can only go so far.”

Amid the bouncing of a Chi Chi and way too loud barking of a Louie, a Honey Bob Tail “Boo” stepping over some chairs towards me and Florida’s unmistakable meow and seeming reticence to but wanting a pet anyway, Sharky came about my feet with some light huffing and a head turn. I picked her up for an under ear shoulder.

Not too long ago Shark had come to aging with an abscess of some type in her forehead, a one Celie and the Doc down the hill at the shelter drained as often as they could but eventually was faster than the drains leaving her with a somewhat quasimodo looking noggin. It was an indicator of bad things and soon short days. But in these short days she had taken to front porch breezes or grabbing spots under cars and trucks and behind tires in our parking spot.

Earlier in the week

Celie: “Keep an eye for shark before you head to work. She can’t really hear now and I’m not sure how much she can see with this thing either.”

“Will do” I said and did do with bending’s down behind BB replete with old man sounds and breaths just before each head off.

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Celie said she may be saying goodbye to Sharky today. The prettiest of Calico cats, a one who looked like an animatronic doll, with a just so head tilt and eyes the envy of any anime character.  

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One of my greatest pleasures in this place has been feeding the cats on occasion, slowly talking to them all as I putzed about old man like in someone else’s kitchen, confirming crazy cat lady guy status and shooting Celie a text eventually that said “cats are good”. Covid changed that as we all distanced but Sharky, then, was my assistant chef, a hop up on the counter and a face in the big bowl I would use for mixing a couple of cans of wet stuff with some dry and a bit of water. That’s where her name came from according to Matt, her ravenousness as if she had never eaten before. She was a “you’re not helping Shark” as she moved under my hands at the sink’s sponge with a bowl or two to wash. She was my nose to forehead in this sponging wet hands only wanting to finish and then see the dole out of food, cat noses down.

There’s been a number of goodbye’s in my 3 + years here. Blue, Bruce, Chubs, Bunny, Dolly, Lola, Spanky, Sweets the Fox (I try not to think about that one as that will just bring torrents) all who I called friend with a shoulder ride and a behind the ear like Sharky now. Well not Blue, not that he wouldn’t have liked the attempt I’m sure, but he wasn’t a cat and was a big boy. Nor Sweets, a skittery giggling backyard Susan of a Fox who minded me with a little distance, closer with my handful of the wet raw stuff on mornings when Celie wasn’t around.

But Sharky was part of the lot of my kitchen cat shoulders, usually the place to just distract her away from the under hands attempt at that bowl wash or two or a face in the big bowl.

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Later

Celie: Sharky is no longer with us.

Me: Sigh. Dammit.

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She’s gone now though and not to some mystical place with paws across a mythical bridge to help us feel better, no, she’s just a life lived well that finds its end. I’ve lost my Grayson and lil’ kit Blink in my time here as well as the rest. Lost friends you can’t ease with thoughts of rainbows no matter how much you try.

You remember singular things. Grayson on the fridge top swiping at your head or a walking around this place talking to himself, Blink plopped down on a pile of newly dried laundry to a quick “oh cool, laundry … Ok I’m out … zzz”,  Blue in his intimidating big chested look to run over to BB like a puppy at your get homes, Dolly and a Broadway “Hello” song in your head, Chubs and prairie dog stand ups waiting for that night’s can crack, Bruce, the most Lebowski of cats, with a Billy Idol looking smirk frightening the dogs merely with his presence, especially Pea who would tap and bounce and whine and growl at him as he blocked a doorway, scared to death, Bunny and that one bent ear that loved a bit of a rub, Lola who owned you and reminded any that needed reminding of that with a pop, Spanky in her littleness but determined “I’m here with the big ones”, Sweets playing with a then Georgia puppy in the mornings and, well, just the magic that was Sweets the Fox … and Sharky as my assistant as I imagined myself some sort of cat food chef only needing a crack sound and a spoon.

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I took her on my shoulder under ear out the back porch to the pool for a sit and she grabbed a spot under one of the bushes that sit poolside. There was sun and a breeze, a light thing, but a breeze. She layed down under the bush’s shade. I swear if she could have …

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C’mon Shark hop up, yes I know, it’s big bowl time. Can ya give me a hand?  

You could say a Picture is worth a thousand purrs huh?

In A Trump Cultish Way (song)

I’m sure for whoever might occasion this place, minding footsteps for cats (appreciated) and watching their heads, that me adding another tune to the clutter here in the Attic can bring a breathy , heavy “sigh” … but it’s kinda my thing, or at least part of it.

So another something to sit in a pile of things or maybe on top of a cat window spot storage bin with a comfy towel for the moment … though Bella could give a shit for the extra company.

To the tune “A Horse With No Name” and for the intent of pointing out the revisioning lying nonsense we’re currently bombarded with on a daily basis courtesy of the GOP cultists.

In A Trump Cultish Way

La La …

On this next part of the journey  

Revisionists they work a big job   

Re-write Trump things play the whitewash card

Dems to blame for looking at scars

Dem’s want to rehash a thing with no gain

Nothing to gather – commission won’t change

Just ask Ron Johnson or Andrew Clyde

No insurrection but Clyde he did cry

They come down the mountain in a Trump cultish way

They bring tablets of lies now in play

Nothing to shame – to make them take a new turn    

Cause polit-ti-cly they need truth to burn

La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la

After 5 months since the cap riot run

Where insurrection had backup’s white guns

From vivid vid proof and 5 people dead

To normal folks doing touristy things

Or simple protest and what patriots did bring

A re-write to protect their gold king

You see they come down the mountain in a Trump cultish way

They bring tablets of lies now in play

Nothing to shame – to make them take a new turn    

Cause polit-ti-cly they need truth to burn

La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la

——–

After four years a new playbook was writ

A How to to democracy’s fall

How to chip away at institutions held dear

future despots could now hear the call 

They devote to the pages like some gold gilded tome

Where lies are truth you just repeat on and on

It’s like a scripture handed down from their king on the mount

To disciples not held to account

You see they come down the mountain in a Trump cultish way

They bring tablets of lies now in play

Nothing to shame – to make them take a new turn    

Cause polit-ti-cly they need truth to burn

La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la

La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la

La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la


La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la

Hey Ron, you ignorant prick, what the fuck is an-tEEfa?

A Large, Random, Smiling, Light Green Inflatable Whale With A Golden Horn, Unicorn-Like

A week or so ago, maybe the beginning of last week, or just the end of the one before, at one of the houses that I pass on my way home from work there suddenly appeared a large, smiling, light green inflatable whale with a golden horn, unicorn-like, with no real reason, well, no real reason that any passerby like me is going to know I guess. I know of no cartoon characters to associate with it, no kid’s shows that I am aware of (though if I were aware of any current kids shows as an older single dude with no kids and three cats that might be a worry) no holiday to tie it to.

I did for a quick second think of Fudgie the Whale but I don’t think a Key Lime version of such would have the same appeal. No, it’s just a large, smiling, light green inflatable whale with a golden horn, unicorn-like, sitting smack float in the middle of someone’s front ocean yard.

Now I’m sure there is a pop culture reference for this that I just don’t know and that there is a perfectly good reason for it floating there for them, maybe a birthday request from a youngin’’ or something.

“Hey Dad or Grandad, or Mom or Grandma, do you think you could put the whale in the front yard for my birthday?”

“Sure, and how abouts we just leave it there for a while?”

“Yay!”

Whatever the reason …

But every night since I first noticed this large, smiling, light green inflatable whale with a golden horn, unicorn-like and indeed unicorn-like as it is one of a kind it seems, at least to me, I have just laughed as I’ve passed it, just fucking laughed. Laughed at the sheer seeming random of it. Just laughed.

Dear house on my way home with the random large, smiling, light green inflatable whale with a golden horn, unicorn-like, floating in your front ocean yard,

Thank you.

I’ve needed that.

Lori Says To Zoom

I know I’ve mentioned this before but I have these Zoom calls with friends of mine from the college days, a three best who help me find my center when things have gone askew which is quite often. I sooooo look forward to these calls, once a month or so, especially after what can be long weeks around here.

I told Lori she is my carrot.

One of the best parts of these calls is just the initial connect, a Lori face with a cat in her hair just to my left on the screen, a Tom to the center, then a Mark moving things for the view to a now Zoom room square, faces that remind of youth and the best of days or mistakes and lessons learned, of helping each other to grow up, sometimes forcing, friends that were found unintentionally but have been held all these years.

We talk of nothing … or everything, Lori of a bones told memory of anniversary’s and hurt this night with a bit of Crown in a tumbler’s fresh ice for the softening, Tom in his Tomness of trivia nights lost or of his wonderful blog about ghosts and frights and all things scary, (blogferatu.com), Mark keeping us informed on the news if we’re lagging or lamenting his numerous gigs with a Mark face that wonders why he has to have so many.

We talk of the fondest of memories, of college days and a Dr Bower poetically rolling square balls down hills while setting almost spent cigarettes to stand up on a podium with a smoke that still wants, back when smoking happened in classrooms, while reminding you of what was important in your work or lack thereof. Of a Dr Sipple who was a dad, the one you never wanted to disappoint and who taught you so much and the one to this day that you still hope to impress, just to let him know you still remember that importance. Of a Dessie who it was that kept the English Department together and who always had an ear amid her busy days for you to sit in the chair at the front of her desk.

You talk of Art, you always talk of Art, our collective ghost of a friend who could wrap a word within a word, give it a twist and then have it come back newly defined, you talk of him in deferential but angry ways “where the fuck have you been?” but then you remember that he loved a bit of intentional drama.

“Sleeping on the floor inside a bedframe, really?”

 “Disappearing?”

You move your camera to show a Mimi the Quirky on her bar towel just above your keyboard, a little Bella in her latest choice of one of your three PC chairs (cats got’s have choices) or just let it sit where it is to see a Cricket the Blind, with a swipe, swipe, swipe burying the food in bowls just over your shoulder. You watch a casual cat butt/tail pass in front of Tom’s hairy mug quite a few times, Lori moves hers to show you Jake asleep on the brand new love seat that was instantly dog commandeered the second she placed it in it’s spot, and if Mark is there you tell him it’s time to buy cat food and then get a cat to feed it to, maybe two.

Lori set the window at 5 hours for this Zoom call which I thought was kind of silly as who the hell is going to talk that long?

5 hours later, with Tom’s old dude stretches and hair rubs and Lori’s tumbler of crown and memory being nothing more than alcohol tinged water now and a Mark who couldn’t be here this night but maybe imagined he was to get through a day, I had to say it’s rack time.  

These Zoom calls are a tether, they remind.

They hold you close.

America Redux (song)

For some reason I’ve had this one on a shelf for a couple of months, don’t know why really. I thought I had run a draft of it by my Mikey Six for a “Mikey likes it or doesn’t like it” taste test but without much response … none actually, apparently we had run out of milk. But then I remembered that well, remembering isn’t necessarily the most reliable of things these days, freakin’ keys and glasses (back pocket top of your head dude) so I looked back in my messenger and saw that I had actually only run it past two of my six Mikey’s. So, I bought some more milk and ran it past the other four. I got one “that’s good Steve” which was enough for me so now I can at least tout this as “1 out of 6 Mikey’s agree” and post it.  

(my Mikey Six, by the way, are six really good longtime friends who have spent years learning how to tolerate me and pretend to be nice)

To Neil Diamond’s “America”.

America Redux

White

– 

We be claiming our right

In this our home

All others don’t belong

Place

Go came from and be free

Any disagree

I’ll show ya my favorite tree

But talk out loud we will remind

Our pretense is color blind

How can we be racist kind

Just flag and country we’re aligned

Got support of the like mind

In high places there where you will find

It’s Greene and Hawley and Boebert time

On our white they’ll never drop a dime

News

It paints us in the wrong

Ignores our patriot song

We just love country strong

Fight for white all along

Cues

We take them as they come

Blind to dumb just to be as one

From power to us armed pawns

We just want to belong

– 

Ron Johnson in his insane world

Cap riot not a real concern

Though black lives would make fears curl

Insurrection just a flag unfurled

Claim nothing was really seen

It wasn’t it seemed to be

You’re all taking this to extremes

I’ll tell ya it’s just part of dreams

– 

We’re just acting on base instinct

One fostered with four years of drink

Of Krool Aid orange flavored lies  

Asking cut democracy’s ties today

We pray

Today

Violently say

Hooray

Our country ’tis of thee

We were intent on a hangin’ spree

Of those who wouldn’t see

The real truth in our patriot dreams

It wasn’t what it seemed to be

It was hugs kisses and sittin’ for tea

We were just tryin’ to make him proud

It wasn’t what it seemed to be

It was hugs kisses and sittin’ for tea

We were just tryin’ to make him proud