Saturday, May 31, 2008

RIP Shirley?

Yes, I'm afraid she's gone, and this may be the end of a very long line of cats living here. As I mentioned before, this all started with a pregnant cat, way back when I was just a boy. Shirley and Junior were the last of the line, having been spayed and neutered, respectively, several years ago. (That would have happened to prior generations, but no one was ever able to catch those cats and get the work done!)

As I noted a little over a week ago, Shirley has been MIA. Then, several days ago, Junior went missing. I would worry that my blog post had upset him, but Junior wasn't even smart for a cat, let alone... so no, he probably doesn't read blogs. ;)

Seriously, he went missing, and I started to wonder if maybe they had both been taken in by someone. Sadly, today brought a sign that one of them has died. When she first went missing, I reminded Marc of one sign that indicated a cat death over the years.

This is rather disgusting, but it's a fact. The cats have made their home for at least 20-25 years in a tiny crawlspace under the end of our living room/library. The furnace room runs under part of that room. The close proximity of the end of the furnace room and the crawlspace in question allows some air to pass through, and, as we learned when other cats came home to die, the repulsive smell of decomposition carries through to the furnace room.

Today, Marc went into the furnace room for something and immediately yelled up the stairs to me. I ran down there, entered to furnace room and ran smack into that smell.

At least she got to die at home in her bed. There's something to be said for that. Given the timing, I would guess the smell is her, not Junior. As for Junior, I can only imagine he didn't like the smell and so he left. His complaining to Marc was probably a request that he remove the body. Of course, no human can fit under there (it's really just a space for pipes, not a true crawlspace), so we couldn't do anything if we wanted to.

Soon enough, the smell will pass and she will rest there with ancestors of hers whose skeletons are there. She had a very good life for a feral cat, and I suppose this is as good an end as we could have hoped for. We guesstimate her age around 13 years. Not a bad run, given the circumstances.

Whether Junior will return, who can say? He's around somewhere, I'm sure, and I have no doubt that someone else is feeding him (he always looked quite well fed, and I always thought he had other sources). If he comes back, he will be welcome. If not, I wish him the best.

In the meantime, rest in peace, Shirley.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend recapitulation

Here's a review of our weekend in photos (as always, click on them for bigger versions)...

The U.S. Marines put on a show in our local park. Eisenhower Park, part of our county park system, is bigger than NYC's Central Park. So it was easy to find room for this show.

Those helicopters are BIG!

A helicopter gunship flies over

The helicopters landed, and people were allowed to look inside them

We didn't tour the helicopters. Instead, we said hello to the Marines, shaking hands with this handsome young man...

Then we decided to walk around the park and visit some of the permanent memorials there. First, our county's 9-11 memorial. Our county lost over 340 people in the attacks, and I think this memorial was nicely done...

The Nassau County 9-11 Memorial

A piece of steel from the World Trade Center towers

Names of our neighbors who were lost that day. We looked for one name in particular. Nearby, another man cried as he touched his fingers to a few names grouped together.

This is a good one to click for the larger version, so you can read it (the same goes for the other plaques).

I think this rendering of the shells of the towers is a classy way to remember the loss.

One more look at the Memorial

We went on to visit other memorials in the park, dedicated to those lost in wars going back through American history. But I think we'll now move on to happier things.

Patrick came out to visit. That's always a fun thing, in and of itself. But we wanted to have fun with him, so we pointed the car east, first stopping at Flo's Luncheonette in Blue Point, then heading to Pindar Vineyards for some wine tasting, and finally stopping at Robert Moses State Park, so we could walk on the beach and Patrick could wet his feet in the ocean.

The boys in Pindar's tasting room

The tasting menu

They go through so much glassware that they have to have dishwashers right there and going constantly

Today was a day of relaxation here at the house. Some outdoor time, some indoor, lots of good food and good company (Patrick really is a pleasure to have around!)...

Mandy basks in the sun in our back yard

Marc spent a little time tending to his Earthboxes

See how he likes when I sneak up on him with the camera?

One of the bits of beauty Marc has planted and tended in our yard

Suddenly, Mandy's attention is drawn to something important

So she goes off to investigate

And what was she investigating?

Runoff from the watering! At least we know Mandy will keep us safe from it!

Back inside, Patrick did his stretches. The man is VERY flexible! I always liked men who could bend so well! ;) And his being on the floor thrilled the kids...

Bernice had to go share some love

After that, Bernice took a break on the couch, with her blankie as a pillow

That's it. We had a fun time this weekend, and I hope you all did the same!

A few more rugby photos

I have some Memorial Day Weekend shots (nothing too special or Americana-ish), but before that, a few more from last week's rugby (as always, click on the photos to see larger versions)...

Poor Simmy. Injured again. If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you may remember Simmy being rather spectacularly injured in the past...

This was at a North Jersey match in October 2006. And no, I didn't mess with the colors in Photoshop. That's real blood, and it was that intense looking!

Okay, back to last week...

Okay, that's enough of that. :) If you want to see the full set from last week, they're here.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I love little things like this

I'm the kind of person who loves walking where great (or even not-so-great) people walked long ago. I love standing where George Washington was first sworn in as President (in New York City, then the capital of the United States). By the way, did you know that there's an argument to be made that he wasn't the first President of the United States?

There were Presidents under the Articles of Confederation. John Hancock, President of the Second Continental Congress, best known for his overly large signature, taunting the British, on the Declaration of Independence, saw the following salutation on correspondence from General George Washington:

To the President of the United States,

But I digress. I do love these little historical connections. In fact, the old village part of the town in which my hospital is located is over 300 years old. George Washington did, in fact, spend time there, and there are structures dating back to the 1600s.

So what was the impetus for this post? This was. I get daily book reviews from Powell's Books, and they get them from a variety of publications. I liked the review, but what I found really great was this line: The "Marseillaise" of that crusade ("The Battle Hymn of the Republic," which first appeared, as did many other important documents of the Brown-Emerson alliance, in the pages of this magazine) was an adaptation of the foot soldiers' song about Old Osawatomie Brown.

I was reading a review printed in a magazine that first printed The Battle Hymn of the Republic during the American Civil War. For me, that's a "wow" moment. Of course, the newspaper I read was around before the Civil War. Still, it feels like a connection to those days. Not that I would want to live through it, but it's still fascinating to me.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Is Shirley gone?

You may recall that we have two cats who have lived their lives in the back yard, with living quarters under the back of the house. In fact, Marc recently blogged about the mess they make around the house.

If you search this blog, you'll see cat references now and then. You can see a photo of Shirley here.

Thing is, we haven't Shirley in a week or so. She has disappeared for several days in the past, but she's getting rather old and seemed to be staying closer to home lately. She would wander a few blocks, but the disappearances seemed less frequent to me. Plus--and this is the really worrying thing--it never seemed to phase the other cat, her son (we call him Junior), in the past. But this time it's different. He has been much more vocal than usual, has seemed very upset and has been very receptive to being scratched and rubbing on our legs (unusual for him). We're trying not to anthropomorphize, but he seems like he's in mourning.

With all of this, and considering that Shirley still did some wandering of the streets, despite being half blind and almost completely deaf, we fear she may be dead. Junior may know something. I feel sorry for him. If she's dead, he may have seen her that way. I can relate to that. Seeing my parents dead is something I wish I could forget. Also, Junior and his mother have lived together for his entire life. Now he's alone, except for us (and our three dogs, two of whom make no bones about wanting him dead).

I know, I know. These are feral cats. For feral cats, they've had a good life. We can only guesstimate Shirley's age, but we know she is (or was) in double digits. We think she's somewhere around 13 years old. For a feral cat, that's a pretty good run.

Anyhow, it all makes me really sad. I guess part of it stems from Shirley having been around when both of my parents were alive, one of a line of cats with roots here back to when I was a kid; my Mom fed her every day for years. So she feels like a connection to those days. On top of it, we're the kind of people who try to catch moths and other bugs that get in the house, putting them back outside rather than killing them, if we can manage it, and I ache any time I see some animal (squirrel, raccoon, etc.) dead on the road. In other words, we're animal lovers. So this familiar little cat possibly having died really makes me sad. If she is gone, I hope the end was quick and painless. If you're gone, Shirley, rest in peace.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

No time for photos tonight

No time to post rugby photos! I'll get more up soon.

Too many things to do before bed, including trying to finalize provisions for our new wills. We've talked about rewriting them for ages. With our trip to Dublin coming up soon, we suddenly feel an urge to get them done. Funny how a trip across the ocean motivates us to do such things!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

About those rugby photos...

As I mentioned in my last post, we had a rugby match in Danbury. Since I know you all really love the photos of the pretty boys, I'll start with that...

Isn't he pretty?

Good hit. The guy is clean off his feet!

Eric took quite a hit. I couldn't get a shot of him before he was cleaned up a bit, but he was covered in blood. His nose wasn't broken, but it was bleeding a lot!

Of course, his teammates couldn't resist. There were comments along the lines of, "you're supposed to leave the string hanging out!"

The end of the first match

Okay, we'll hold it there for now.