My Sister’s Cats

July 11, 2017 § Leave a comment

After the weekend I had with animals, we were commiserating with our neighbor, eating ice cream in waffle comes, when the story of my sister’s cats came up, and I told it again to lighten our heavy hearts.

My sister left her cats with me once. I don’t think she will ever make that mistake again.

My sister, Leslie, was working in the Atlantic City casino industry when she and her husband of the time, Kenny decided to work a couple of seasons in the Bahamas. Ex-Pat living, collecting the same wage, but not responsible for the same level of taxation. An opportunity to live in a different country for a few years, and to save some money for a future back in the states.

Leslie had two cats: a female Calico named Speckles, and a B&W male named Katahdin, like the mountain in Maine. 

They were both indoor/outdoor cats, though Katahdin liked spending more time outdoors than Speckles did, and Katahdin was also a couple of years younger. Both were very personable, and Speckles enjoyed our company, day AND night. A slightly annoying habit of hers was she would walk around your head at night, and occasionally drool a bit of cat spittle on your face. My tolerance level being higher than Susan’s, this cat learned to only drool on me.

These were the old days, before cell phones, before e-mail, when good old letter writing was the norm for communications. I didn’t even have a phone number for Leslie at the time, but needless to say, I am not, nor was I ever much of a letter writer. My cousin Debbie and I wrote each other when we were younger, but I never had a writing relationship with anyone else, so it’s safe to say that I didn’t hear from Leslie, nor she from me for most of the time she was out of the country.

Turns out, there was a reason the cat drooled a lot. Turns out, that the poor thing had developed a tumor in her jaw, and as it grew it pushed the floor of her mouth up and she just could not hold onto her drool. By the time we noticed it, it was too late for her. Cat’s, like most animals, are pretty good at masking their suffering, so that most of the time she simply looked cute and cuddly. At the Vet, the operation just sounded like there would be no quality of life for her, so we had her put to sleep, and I buried her in our backyard in Red Bank. I did not write Leslie about this.

Some time passed, and then Katahdin disappeared. A couple of days went by and we hadn’t seen him, and I decided to go out and look for him. I didn’t have to look far. He had been involved in a car accident (I believe), and still alive, he was holed up under the porch trying to recover, but getting weaker. We took him to the vet, and they were able to help him, but that was the beginning of the end for him, and eventually we had to have him put down as well, and he too is buried in the backyard in Red Bank. I did not write Leslie about this either.

It got to be near the end of Leslie’s time abroad, and Susan, my wife, told me that I had to write Leslie and tell her about her cats. I knew this would be a tough assignment. I can write some funny humorous stuff, but writing serious stuff, I knew would be a chore.

How to tell her? Should I describe the issues they had, and then finish by telling her they were gone? Should I start out that they are gone, and then give the circumstances? Should I apologize for not telling her sooner?

Needless to say I started a few notes, and each one ended up in the trash after a few sentences. At some point I settled on the following:

Dear Leslie,

Your cats are dead.

Love Eric

Surf Taco Challenge 2016

October 31, 2016 § Leave a comment

I am not sure who had the first thought regarding this event, but it was Andrea Brennan who created the event, and it was an invitation from her in my Facebook notifications to ride this inaugural 2016 event. The original date and I had a conflict, and as it turned out, so did the weather, so rescheduled it was, and as luck would have it, Andrea was treated to a terrific warm and sunny late October Saturday for this event. (video here)

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Never Got Warm

October 31, 2016 § 1 Comment

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar; 
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: "Please close that door. 
It's fine in here, but I greatly fear you'll let in the cold and storm— 
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm."

From “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert W. Service.

I thought about poor Sam McGee often during this day. It was to be one of those days where I knew ahead of time it was never going to get too warm. We were not going to find ourselves in the midst of a late October “Native American” summer day. No, that wouldn’t come until the next day. This day was going to start out in the low high 30’s low 40’s and it would never get out of the 40’s. For that matter we wouldn’t even see the sun until it could clear the Kittatinny Ridge to our east.

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Banff – Drew Butler

October 17, 2016 § Leave a comment

It could be argued (successfully) that I have have known Drew all his life, and that would be true, but you don’t really know someone until you have spent some time in the back-country hiking with them.

Drew and I made up (along with Jim Kirby) Bear Team 1, and together we almost always found the trail to keep moving forward. Almost? Well, we both failed to pursue the apparent loss of the trail heading East out of Wildflower, but no harm done, and we all had fun and were content with the decision made.

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Banff – Walter Martin Everetts

October 10, 2016 § Leave a comment

I have known Walt as Marty because my introduction to him was facilitated by my then roommate, who became my girlfriend, who became my wife, a.k.a. Susan who is sibling to Marty, and Marty is the family name for Walt. To me he is always Marty, but I have gotten used to referring to him as Walt in front of people who only know him as Walt.

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Banff – Mike Barris

October 4, 2016 § Leave a comment

When Susan and I moved to Little Silver, we joined the New Comers organization and through our involvement became acquainted with Mike Barris and his wife Bonnie Marvel. Our wives met, either directly at one of the socials, or maybe one of the book groups that form as a result of these social arrangements, and it was quickly established that both of their husbands were hikers, and had to meet.

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Banff – Andy Shoneman

October 4, 2016 § Leave a comment

My next profile concerns one Andy Shoneman. I met Andy through Mike Barris and his wife Bonnie Marvel when they and some others were trying to put together a monthly or semi-monthly couples dinner out night. At the time, Susan and I were the only ones with kids, but that didn’t affect how often we tried to get out.

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