Dad: I thought Sneakers was peeing everywhere because his litter box was a solid block but he’s still doing it.
Me: When did you clean out his bin?
Dad: Two, three weeks ago.
Me: You have to do it more often, probably weekly.
Dad: Why would people put up with that?
Me: Well, you changed diapers a few times a day for years.
Dad: Good point.  I like the cat more than most babies.  I can change the litter once a week.

Sneakers has continued his rain of terror and my father has dutifully cleaned up piles of clothing left out so Sneakers upped his game.  This morning he lept on my father’s bed, meowed waking my dad, and when my dad reached out to pet him, peed on the comforter.

Me: So, are you mad at him?
Dad: Not really.  More jealous.
Me: Jealous?
Dad: Yeah, I can’t get away peeing everywhere like he does and at my age, I wish I could make a stream like he does.

Ah, the human prostate, nature’s timebomb.

Housemate: Terry, I have an amazing idea.
Me: Have you been drinking?
Housemate: Maybe I have, maybe I have a lot, but hear me out.
Me: Ok.
Housemate: I think we should get your dad another cat.  Sneakers may not be around forever.
Me: So, what’s your idea?
Housemate: I’ll go to the animal shelter, find the cutest kitten I can that still has its claws and take it back to my girlfriend’s house.  We’ll play with it until it’s good and tired, bring it over here, put it on your dad’s lap.  It’ll fall asleep and your father will have no choice but to keep it after being hit by adorable.
Me: What if the cat doesn’t fall asleep?
Housemate: No choice.
Me: What if Sneakers doesn’t like the other cat?
Housemate: No choice.
Me: What if it’s a short-hair breed, I think I’m allergic to those?
Housemate: *whispers* No choice.

I have a theory that my cat isn’t a Felis Catus or house cat but a tiny Puma Concolor or mountain lion that’s discolored and aging very slowly.  Today he subdued and dragged into the house a rabbit much larger than his head without my dad noticing until he heard weird noises from the living room.  My cat is turning 15 soon and has recently killed a small fox, subdued a rabbit, demolished a small groundhog, and caught a blue jay.  The last is still the most impressive to me.  In other news “remove rabbit blood from a rug or carpet” has been removed from my bucket list.

Somehow a pair of shorts had fallen from my car and gotten soaked by the Washington rain.  I rigged together an impromptu air drying consisting of my car.


By the time I got to Mount Rainier they were quite dry, just like the park itself.  Mount Rainier is shaped in almost every way by the movement of glaciers and the river basins were hugely disproportionate to the actual flow at the time which can change by orders of magnitude as the glaciers on Rainier advance and retreat.  Even more rock is scored out as chunks break off and migrate down.


Make way for glacier

The peek itself was white and photogenic.


Mt. Rainier

Besides the mountain, climbing the mountain, or looking at what was falling off of the mountain, there wasn’t much to the park besides a crazy number of bodies of water formed with melt water.  Here again I learned that man is a herding species as whenever I turned out to take a picture, two or three other cars would follow.  This time I decided to try to take advantage of this at a glacial lake with spectacular blue ice that was only visible at a distance between trees.  Glacial ice forms when snow compresses into ice which creates a very blue ice.  It’s impressively hard and dense with a slightly deformed crystal lattice.  This was my shot with a 200mm lens from a snow bank over a fir stand.  I doubt the German man wearing sandals got a good shot with his camera phone.


I was lazy and forgot to white balance, everything should be a spot cooler.

I left Rainier on my way to Tacoma, Washington to visit Ben Fatula.  Ben is a chef in the Armed Forces looking to move into the private sector and eventually open a restaurant after a car accident which left him with chronic back pain.  We had some Thai food, a type of cuisine that I find underwhelming and obsessed with peanuts but seeing him was nice.



Then, it was off to Canada…

I spruced up my car in anticipation of crossing the Canadian border and tried to remove extraneous crap from the immediate view of the crossing officer.  I get to the front of the line:

Guard: Where are you coming from?
Me: Pennsylvania.
Guard: How long do you plan on being in Canada?
Me: Three days.
Guard: What are the contents of your cargo?
Me: Mostly camping equipment.
Guard: Who is your current employer?
Me: None.
Guard: So you’ve driven from PA to Vancouver for three days, have no job and are mostly carrying camping equipment?
Me: Yes, sir.
Guard: Please pull to the side.

The only way I could raise more red flags was if I said I was a travelling oregano salesman or if my last name were Hussein.

I pulled over, had my phone and passport taken and looked on as every item was removed from my car.   The only other people waiting were what appeared to be a drunk British woman and a collection of Asian women.  After a bit they waved me back over and gave me my keys back pronouncing my car clean.  Then I saw that in the process of inspecting my car the ding in my front door that prevented it from opening was turned into a full blown dent. Boo.

The signage in Canada was bewildering.  The first thing I noticed was that the posted speed limit conversion was a bit off: 20 MPH is not 30 KPH, it’s 32.18…  Canada takes us for chumps.  Also, the yield and one way signs had no words on them but all the others were is both English and French.  Fuel was also not always listed with the obligatory 9/10ths cent extra, and in Surrey I saw gas at 1.133 dollars a liter or about 4.32 a gallon.  Eak.

My host that night was Tom Weir/Tweir.  His cat is adorable:


Smudge the cat.

Tweir was tired and I was tired resulting in the last three hours of the day ending in rambling about team operation.  To bed.

I left Columbia not knowing if I was going north or south, instead waiting from a call from a somewhat down on his luck fellow that lived in upper Missouri.  I had two hours before I had to choose but he politely called shortly after my departure.  Missouri’s state roads are lettered instead of number which led to some odd pictures:


Like some sort of giant outdoor library

Missouri was the first area I’d consider specifically rural on my route, having towns with populations under 2000 and normally defunct places like Esso gas stations or Western Auto.  All of the general stores had 7-Up signs that were originally sold in the early 1980s as part of a marketing campaign and a few other vestiges of old time I rarely encounter except for in vintage stores or when making odd detours on road trips.  The cars seemed to be about 10 years older on average bringing back memories of my 1983 Dodge Ram Charger and my father’s string of Jeep Wagoneers.  Finally, there was the haphazard distribution of livestock standing as neither the lone dairy cow nor the proper herd but a clutch of 8-25 on a 40 acre plot.

I met Mathew Krieg/Blitz at his home and listed to his tale of woe brought on by his ur-bitch ex-girlfriend.



He has a dog, Chloe, and a cat, Zoe.


She needs a haircut

I gave him stickers, and talked, got a Hy-Vee diet cola and headed south.

Driving to Oklahoma involved crossing Kansas which, while flat, I thought would be flatter.  I suppose there’s a different profile north/south rather than east/west but I was looking for infinite grassland nothingness and was met with just enough dips and inclines to confuse the hell out of cruise control.  I arrived in Tulsa, Oklahoma and prattled like a schoolgirl with Rev until 3 AM under the glowing light of his TV which is never to be turned off… which I did.  Foreshadowing for the next day.

The cat has a nonchalant  attitude towards snow.  He recognizes that it’s cold and to be avoided but seems to use his tail as a periscope in the deep stuff.  My dog on the other hand treats the stuff as would the caveman materials scientist.  He will pee in it and marvel as how he can carve a path through it.  It’s the only time I’ve seen a dog watch itself pee.  He seems to realize snows lightness but hops from place to place not like a kangaroo but like a blind person on a pogo stick.  There are divets separated by gaps which form canine crop circles whirling across the yard near his favorite bark-at-nothing-in-particular spot.  Most impressive is how he periodically stares at the snowscape, becomes one with the Matrix essence of it and lunges for something at the level of the actual ground.  This process repeats itself maybe ten times and then he moves on to whirling dervish mode before resuming his nasal spearfishing.   Most impressively, he’s learned to wait on the walk mat to have the snow removed.  If only he could repeat this trick when covered in water, mud, kitty litter, or groundhog fur.

So, the cat’s head wounds have largely cleared up but it still looks someone went at his throat with a fillet knife.  My father’s convinced he’s scratching at it.  I proposed we get him a cat cone much like we’d used on our dog, Max.  My father thought this would make an outdoor hat a sitting duck against the various feral beasts that roam our grounds and in a flash of inspiration he proposed we tie a sock around his throat.  Yes, a sock.  I caught him trying to size one up for our cat but it appears that to make it work we’d have to get a very long sock or tie a knot so tight that the neck wound would no longer be our cat’s greatest issue.

Dad: I think the cat’s got a disease or something, I keep seeing these tufts of hair recently.
Me: That’s not cat hair.  That’s one of the periodic dog-hair tumbleweeds that develops if I haven’t vacuumed recently.
Dad: I still think there’s something wrong with the cat.

My cat is either frequently attacked or has some OCD whereby he scratches to excess.  That wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that after being wounded he tends to lick himself a lot and throws up more.  Normally, I have enough time to pick him up and put him in the sink or place him outside, but the time’s been dropping.  Today, I was on my computer when he started making kitty-vomit noises.  Normally, this means 30 seconds and I was thinking I’d drop him in the shower but the tell-tale hrug-chauk noise told me I had less time.  I was able to rip off my vest fast enough to use it as a throw-up drop-cloth and save my carpet.  Maybe this is my cat’s way of testing my reaction time now that he can no longer keep up with me trying to poke him on the head.

At 2:00 AM, Monday, September 14, 2009 a blueberry cake died.  It started off as a good cake, straight muffin mixed and true.  The carrot cake recipe was pushed into service with heavy cream replacing yogurt and shortening for butter to make ends meet.  Instead of carrots of most carrot cakes, this used blueberries, not the freshest but still a blueberry to be proud of.  The batter was poured into a cake pan and the rest has been determined by forensic investigation:

  • 1:12 – Cake batter enters oven, weighted down heavy with blueberries
  • 1:27-The rise in interrupted by the opening of the door to the oven, causing a gust of cold air to blast the top of the cake.
  • 1:30 – The top of the cake solidifies after exposure to cold air preventing the batter from rising properly.
  • 1:38 – The sealed cake top breaks off from the rise of the rest of cake and makes a run for the bottom of the pan.
  • 1:45 – Cake hits boiling point, berries boil and burst, releasing wave of moisture.
  • 1:50 – Cake having just been hit by wave of blueberry burst-induced water vapor beings sagging as foam breaks due to new weight at the top.
  • 1:59 – Cake top has descended, creating an almost perfect spongy square center like some sort of quadrilateral donut.
  • 2:00 – Cake frosting is applied, begins to melt into the central compression where upon the center finally falls into madness.
  • 2:05 – Cake death recorded, given to dog.
  • 2:10 – Dog throws up outside.
  • 2:12 – Cat wants in, confused by dog throwing up outside.
  • 2:14 – Cat salvages cake by spending a solid 10 minutes licking the cream cheese package.

Time to wake up late, hit the bakery, find something nice, slip it into my cake tin and make it look shitty so people think I made it.  I’ve only done this once before, I think people could tell, but they were nice and lied to me.