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Eulogy PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 16 August 2017 20:07

don’t know why I sang it. I hardly remembered the lyrics. But the shelter told us that when you get a cat home you should sit in the bathroom with her and her litterbox until she used it to calibrate her domain. And this new visitor/family member of ours, this little black and white darling with her tiny white nose and vastly curious eyes, she prowled the bathroom and sniffed at the box while I lay in the bathtub waiting for her to christen her abode with a poo. At one point she jumped into the tub with me (how small she was) and snuggled into my left armpit where she kneed my upper arm with pinprick claws, her purr roaring while I stroked her. And without thought I ended up singing softly the first few lines from Sweetheart, by “Franke and the Knockouts”.

The shelter picture, right before we adapted her.Sweetheart…

Who loved you from the start…

Who treats you like

    The stars …

Do dah do dah dah dah (like I said, I didn’t remember much of it)

But she didn’t mind. She wiggled even closer, her purr even louder, our hearts booming against each other.

So, screw a tiny little kitten BM. In every way, she was home now.

It’s hard to catalog (which is pun in itself) all the Mookie moments of a brilliant flame of existence over a blissful decade. But some highpoints…

When I hosted an operating session on my train layout and amongst the attendants was gruff old guy who hated cats. So trains were running and the room was packed and I stepped out into the living room for a second. And there was that cat-hater on my sofa, Mookie cuddled in his arms, belly up with a smile so catty, with the supposed cat-hater rubbing her belly. I stood there bemused – he looked up, saw that his cover was blown, whereupon moved his hand to her neck and (gently) pretended to strangle her. Gaaaaa! Sure, sure.

Whereupon the next train club election, Mookie got nominated for secretary and actually picked up a couple of votes. “I’m running against a goddamn cat,” the beleaguered incumbent asided to me. “I’d better not lose.”

Then there was the front window which looked out over the corner of our streets where an entire world of dog-walkers, feral felines and chittering squirrels cavorted. It became our beacon of home, to return from dinner or a walk to see her silhouette perched there, ears perking as lustrous eyes caught sight of us. As we came up the walk she’d jump down to attempt to nose through the door, nine parts greeting, one part daring escape.

The overnight counterpart for this was the sill in the bedroom where she’d keep her nocturnal watch through the sleeping hours, tail lashing my face as creatures of interest crackled through the ferns. Some nights something would excite her so much she’d leap from the bed and run through the house like a madcat, dashing to who knew where, only to return all aprickle to further track the mysterious trespassers. And that brings us to the night of the Grande Adventure – perhaps she threw herself at a screen-walking gecko or fluttering moth – I don’t know. But suddenly there came a crash as the screen folded and dropped from its frame, Mookie tumbling out to land in the ferns. I woke up, blinking in the sight of the gaping empty window and ran to the back door. Tossed open the door (and set off the alarm) to find her dancing on the back deck, eyes as wide as moons, her whiskers a starburst of excitement. I scooped her up before she decided the feral life was for her, feeling her little heart clattering against my shoulder as I carried her inside.

Mookie at her cutest.Being a corporate-contrarian, I once brought her up to the 14th floor of my office, releasing her to wander the pods on Take your daughter to work day, daring the forces of compliance to contest the bonds of adoption. She prowled the area, eyes unblinking as she looked down halls that ran away to eternity, charming the Indian ladies (“So soft,” they’d exclaim as they gingerly petted her sleek coat) and even mugging for her admirers inside a box. She truly was my daughter, and I was her daddy.

My mom remembers well the time Mookie showed total feline independence. We brought her out to mom’s condo at the beach. What we didn’t know is that a recent storm had soaked the carpets around the balcony doors. The building managers had put two fans every bit as loud and large as B17 Wright/Cyclone engines to thunder away the moister. It was thought that Mookie would cower beneath the bed in the back room. But no, she strolled between the vibrating casings, sniffing this one and then the other, fully in control, totally nonplussed.

When I got home from work, she’d stand in the crook of my arm, front paws over my shoulder, her spine curving to match the line of my chin, her purr a comforting rumble. She loved to crawl between my side and arm, to sink into that warm place, to work my skin with all four feet, blissfully happy (always the left side as she had that first night, never the right). She would follow me around the house like a little poodle. She’d walk the books behind the sofa, perching atop the highest stack, overwatching her living room. She’d greet guests with genuine warmth, helping cat novices to locate those places that needed scratching and stroking. She loved the computer heat vent. But mind you – she was not a creature of habit: every month or so she’d discover a new sleeping place, a new observation post, a new trick, a new charm. Every day with her was new, every touch a comfort.

But these stories end as they always must. It was her kidneys that failed in her tenth year. If God is reading this, it was way too soon – I should have had another ten years with her. But then there was the drop in appetite, the grim diagnosis and the slide in weight that went on and on over the long weeks we tracked it. In the end we were hydrating her with a bag and needle. Multiple food bowls and water dishes were placed strategically about the house – we didn’t want to miss an opportunity. When she lowered herself dutifully (and without enthusiasm) to eat we’d freeze in silence, not risking a distraction. But her disinterest became total; she didn’t eat for days. I thought of ways to fix it – more hydration, another trip to the vet, but my wife sobered me. “She’s just not happy anymore.”

She wasn’t.

The next morning we took her to our vet, quietly consulted our options and chose the most merciful (and hence soul-wrenching) solution. We watched her bright little soul leave her exhausted body. We drove her remains home.

Over the desperate weeks I’d considered her plot. Outside her favorite front window where she’d vigil for our return, that was the place. Of course there was a bed of wild vines which I tore into with a weeder. The ground I turned, the matted compost revealing soft warm dirt, her eternity bed. I dug down four feet, as far as I could go. Meanwhile JB moved her remains from the box to a towel, her shroud. Into the hole we lowered her, making her comfortable. Her two favorite toys, a little worn cloth ball and a mouse with a bell on its tail, were placed with her like the pharaoh’s treasures. And there she lies, her body at rest, her memories burning my heart. My eyes are wet as I write this.

But she was a cat who lived her life as I live mine: she made the world a better place. My train buddies, my movie watchers, my friends, my coworkers: everyone knew her and liked her. She had no enemies. Even the dogwalkers of our street smiled and tossed waves as she stood on her sill, monitoring the avenue’s events. My heart aches for Mookie as it has for all the cats of my life. She will be forever in my heart.

To Mookie, I leave this link where we can cuddle again and listen to Sweetheart, the song that defined us.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 August 2017 20:38
Go! PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 16 October 2016 13:46

ell, like I needed another hobby. I have model railroading, reading, writing (and blogging), astronomy, cycling, and now Go.

So what is Go? Essentially it's an Asian game of strategy. Black and white exchange placing pieces, trying to surround the other forces and claim territory. But it's amazing the way the patterns flow in this game. You might stalk your opponent for a capture, only to find that he is working to capture you. Astounding. While I love to play (and just purchased my own board and stones) I've got a long way to go before getting any good.

The thing I like about Go? It awards efficiency. It allows you to judge how risky or defensive a placed stone will be. It mirrors life - to the most efficient goes the spoils. I see a lot of the concept of Go in my normal life - in how people drive, in how they talk, in movies and stories. You don't have time to waste. In fact, you can't even waste momentum. Going from sente (forcing your opponent to respond) to gote (giving away the initiative) is so true of purpose, be it economic, military, or even relationshipal (is that a word?). Every scheme, every plan, they all have aspects of Go in them.

So I've been playing. I'm sliding back and forth at about 18 kyu (a novice level of play) against the computer. At work, I'm realizing that in a passing game (when my opponent and I place carefully deliberated moves, once every couple of hours) I can rule. But the faster game I'm not quite up on things yet. And I've organized a tournament for work - three people so far, but I know two more who will join. There is even a club in town I'm tempted to go to (except that it's on Tuesdays, which lands between model railroad work sessions (Monday) and model railroad club nights (Wednesdays). And I also get a call from my best friend that night. So maybe I'll wander over and play a game or two on smaller boards (I'm too chickenshit to go full 19x19 yet). But I'm thinking - yes, it's good to have another hobby to be half-assed at.

No, I'm not going to make another separate area for this. Rather, I'll just post it to general and see how it goes.

BTW, recent articles about my interest are as follows...

Some stories of writing and Go...


Offstage epic

And one of books I read on playing this crazy game (the next review, for Beginner's Go, will post in a couple of weeks)...

Go Fundamentals

So we're going to have to see how this all plays out.



Last Updated on Sunday, 16 October 2016 14:17
India - Day Nine – Liquid Death in all forms PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 01 March 2016 18:06

oday was our trip to the Ganges. “But wait,” you say. “I’ve already read this.” No, this time it was to see the sun coming up over the Ganges, a time of prayer. But in starting the day off I got two pieces of bad news. First, my sister had explosive Ebola-level liquid death (likely from that Air India sandwich she ate on the short flight out – two other people were down for similar reasons). And then a good friend, Ed Rieg, had passed away. So I had a lot on my mind when we pushed through traffic (human, vehicular, bovine and beggerish) to get to the Ghat (the landing where we would launch from).

We pushed out into the sluggish water and slowly rowed up current, watching to the east. Eventually a low red ball burned its way up through the haze like a smelted coin in a bucket of ditch water. Still, it was lovely in its Indian way, just glowing over the eastern sandbars, the boats and their worshipers.

So I stood up in the boat, faced the sun, and prayed for my sister and Ed. It seemed like a fitting thing to do.

The sun rises, met by our prayers

Then we were attacked by river pirates – two boats latched on to either gunnel and started selling us stuff. I bought some beads for a friend and JB picked up some stone elephants. Once we landed, we saw a huge stone map of India and toured the Banaras Hindu University. All nice.

JB works her way through the piles...After pushing our way home, we got to eat breakfast and then walk next door to a silk manufacture. Watched the whole show, listened to the pitch, and had JB buy a couple of nice scarves for herself (I could tell she really wanted them) – otherwise, she’d have not done it and then regretted it (verbally) for the rest of our lives. But when it comes to buying things, we hardly have much at all, couple of scarves, couple of dresses, some trinkets (two bead strings, six tiny elephants (two divine, the others standard)) and that marble table. But considering some of the members of the tour who are hauling out trinkets in bulk, we’re pretty modest.

Then our final tour – went over Sarnath, the holy city where Buddha originally preached. They even have part of the banyan tree (through cuttings and regrowth) off the original he sat under. Walked through an old temple complex (again lost, again discovered by the curious English (“Jove, yet another lost city, wot?”). Also toured a Hindu/Buddhist museum full of things recovered from that site. Then home in time for our final dinner.

And we’re pretty much done at this point, other than the travel (I’ll blog anything of significance besides my aching ass and red-eyed endurance). But I’m dreaming of sedate traffic, quiet surroundings, blue skies and juicy pizzas. Yes, it was a trip of wonder and amazement but it’s also a trip that took a great deal of endurance to complete. I’ve seen India, loved it, understand my coworkers a little better, and will be all too happy to be home.

Thanks for reading.



Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 March 2016 18:14
India - Day Eight – Love and Death PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 29 February 2016 00:00

kay, so, Khajuraho Temple – looks like those temples out of the Jungle Book (yeah, already made that comparison). But that’s where the G-rating ends.

I might not know art, but I know what I like!Whoever the natives were, they were very open-minded. Their temples showed all manner of court life (unclothed court life) and all manner of sexual configurations (69, three-somes, voyeurism, bestiality).  So yeah, I got a lot of pictures. Really, there is something (as an occasional writer of erotica) that these stone-masons of 1000AD captured, the saucy cant of a woman’s hip, her come-hither expression, all that. And did they ever catch it. Honestly, much of it is repeats of earlier scenes in the other complex; one woman adjusts her henna markings (and twists back a leg so erotically) yet you see the same moment captured over and over (woman with a thorn in her foot, woman needing help with an ankle bangle) that you rather get the idea. Still, some moments of raw sexuality there. Worth a look.

Then a rush to the airport to pick up a flight to Varanasi. No problems with the flight – oh, it was rinky-dink with the banana-republic security, the rolling boarding ramps, all that, but a 30 minute plane ride tops a 12 hour bus ride.

This afternoon, we drove over to the Ganges for our special tour of the river by sunset. It was a bit of a problem that the cars had to drop us twenty minutes’ walk away. This doesn’t sound like much, but Varanasi is an Indian city – you must see traffic to believe it. We pushed along a flood of humanity, stepping over deformed beggers, dodging hawkers, shouldering along with natives, all to the singing horns of the traffic. Pushed our way down to the river bank – a hazy purple in the late afternoon glow, the ancient steps packed with worshipers and watchers. Picked up a couple of flowers from a boy, a cup, flowers and a candle in each – these were for sending wishes along the Ganges.

Okay, so two swarthy river-rats loaded us into their old wooden boat draped with orange flowers, backing us under long ore/poles into the main body of the slow moving river. We eased north along the bank, threading past boats out to see the night’s happenings. Further along, pyres were bursting against the evening gloom, one, two, three… five – even more. Cremations were taking place all along one section of the bank. Kites fought against a half-mooned evening sky, bats fluttered, mosquitos hummed, the riverboys calling out to each other, clearing down port and starboard.

Crazy, yes, but better than some gray funeral.We held station off the cremations, watching new bodies being brought down, new pyres flaming high. Tiny candles were lit in their cups and set off with a wish. Got mine and JBs lit and we launched them together, watching them flow north, riding into the darkness where all dreams go. A defeated kite fluttered down with a tiny splash further out. Boats rode easy, not two alike.

We poled our way back up to the launching point, only to find a line of Brahmans performing some religious line dance on a lit stage, all the river’s vessels pressing close to watch. The alien music floated over the waters. Tea-boys walked from boat to boat, selling steaming drink by the cup. I looked over my shoulder and saw a female Indian boat girl facing away, tending to an oar. She turned to reveal that she was in advanced pregnancy. I realized that at that moment I was looking at true India.

Eventually we got ashore – then came the crazy walk back, the scooters, auto rickshaws and cars flooding past uncaring pedestrians. Once again we had to push through intersections so clogged with honking cars that one had to turn sideways and slide between scooters, rubbing against the drivers. We got to the curbing – the woman before me (one from our tour) stopped dead. Just off her line-of-march, a shadowy patch of muddy ground, a dead dog lying there. There we stood, traffic chaosing past, and she’s locked up over the dog. “Keep moving,” I said firmly and gave her a gentle push. I didn’t want to lose sight of the guide. That would be death. I’d never get home.

But I did, following a crazy drive home, including a dust-roostering shortcut through a slum. Finally we made it. Retired to the hotel restaurant for Fish and Chips, too much beer, then back to the room. As I write this, fireworks are banging from a nearby Indian wedding and car horns ring in the night.

We’re going to see another Ganges tomorrow, hopefully a calmer version, when the sun rises.




Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 March 2016 18:13

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