Friday, May 12, 2017

Too Many Left Turns...

I know that anyone who reads this won't get the inside joke in the title, so let me explain. I met my riding buddy, John, who Nancy refers to as my BFF, back in 1999. That was the first year I rode a motorcycle to Sturgis, SD for the rally. I went with Lyle, who was my patrol sergeant back then, John, who was Lyle's brother-in-law, and Jesse, who was John's nephew. That first year there were a total of 5 of us. We met up with Garth, from Castlegar, British Columbia, once we got out to the campground. In this small group, almost all of us were, in some way, involved in Law Enforcement. I was a Deputy Sheriff, Lyle was my supervisor, John's wife was an agent with the ATF, and Garth was a dispatcher for the RCMP. I think Jesse had just graduated from high school.

The group stayed the same for several years. Then it started expanding. Lyle's brother Larrie and several of his friends started coming along. The list of who was in our group grew every year. At one point, it had grown to 11 or 12. As to be expected, this caused some bad vibes at times. It's pretty hard to get 12 people to all agree on just about anything. Even trying to figure out where to go for breakfast could turn into a long, heated discussion.

Departure dates and travel plans were a mess some years. One year, I thought everyone was going to Sturgis for the last few days of the rally and then stay there for a few more days and enjoy the nearly vacant Black Hills... I scheduled my vacation time around those plans. I apparently didn't get the updated memo that year, because everyone headed to Sturgis on the usual Thursday before the official start day. I showed up mid week like I thought was the plan... A few days later, everyone was gone.

The problems can't be blamed on any one person. It's just that there were issues with conflicting personalities.

So, what does all that have to do with the title? Well, one day my buddy John was leading the too large group on a long ride through the Black Hills. Traffic can be pretty intense at times with 500,000 motorcyclists all out joy riding in such a small area. One of the riders in the group made a snide remark about planning, and the route making too many left turns for his taste... This didn't sit well with John. I think there were a few remarks about, "If you think you can do better..." or maybe it was even more colorful than that. I don't remember.

I know, this still doesn't explain the title...

I spoke with John last night about getting on the bikes and going out for a ride today, and we agreed it would be a good day for it.

This morning, he called me up and told me he had been looking at a map and found some curvy roads to ride. I quickly got on the computer and brought up Google Maps. I followed along as he laid out the route he had been thinking about. It started with me riding 20 miles to his place. Then, "left on this road.... Left on B.... " We were going to be making a big counter-clockwise loop. I reminded him of the comment someone made about "too damn many left turns". We, He, can joke about now.

We ended up down in Ladysmith, and stopped for a photo opp at Old Smoky.

We had lunch at La Casa Mexicana Mexican Restaurant. I forgot to bring my camera in with me so, sadly, there are no pictures of the meal. Both John and I were glad we stopped there. The food was very good!. I think Nancy and I will have to go there for dinner some night.

I put 179 miles on the Kawasaki, the weather was perfect, sunny, no wind... It turned out to be a nice first ride of the season. Even if there were too many left turns. ;)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

We Lost Another Cat...

I was really hoping to post some motorcycle news, or some happy Spring news. We have no snow, but the temps are still close to 0 at night. I'm sure Spring will arrive, and the bikes and convertible will come out soon. Unfortunately, this post has none of the above...

We had to put Rudy down this morning. This has been an especially hard day. It was just 74 days ago that we had to put down Orangie.

Rudy was born in my closet when we lived in Prescott, WI, on 4-29-09. A pregnant stray cat that wandered into our lives and stuck around our place must have decided we were going to be OK "pet parents". She was an odd one. She wanted nothing to do with either of us, or the other 2 cats we already had, Sticky and Orangie. She wanted no affection, no love.... only food and to be left alone. Early in the morning of the 29th, she jumped up on the bed with us and let me rub her belly. After 10 minutes or so, she got off the bed and disappeared into my closet. I remember waking Nancy and telling her to listen. There was the sound of mewing baby kittens coming from our closet. She had a litter of 6, all nestled on top of my 2 spare pairs of Sorel boot liners.

We now had 9 cats. We worked hard to acclimate the kittens to human contact, but the mother kept picking them up and hiding them every time we'd try. We cared for them until they were old enough to adopt. Then we brought mom and 4 of the kittens to a local shelter that would find homes for them.

We kept two males, Rudy(in the back), and his brother, Screamer (in front).

Rudy was a very unusual cat. Unlike his scrawny, thin and very talkative brother, Rudy was BIG and solid. He had huge paws, thick fur, no fat, no belly, and great teeth. He hardly ever meowed and when he did, it was almost kitten like. For being the big, burly boy he was, he had a gentle and shy demeanor. He was absolutely in love with out oldest, Sticky. Rudy was Sticky's shadow and was never far from him. Rudy would follow him wherever he went. Sometimes Sticky would snap at Rudy, just trying to get some space of his own. Rudy was persistent. He would always try to nurse off of Sticky. It was pretty common to hear suckling sounds and see Rudy's paws kneading Sticky's belly. Sticky just let him...

Rudy was truly an indoor cat. I remember one night when we lived in Prescott. Rudy was lost outside and it was getting late. I took Orangie outside with me and we walked in the woods behind the house. I was calling his name, but Rudy was nowhere to be found. Orangie was a now tame, feral farm cat and was very used to being outside. That night Orangie stayed outside all night. In the morning, I found Orangie and Rudy waiting at the basement patio door. Orangie was fine, but Rudy looked like he was in shock. His eyes were huge, his tail was huge. He looked scared. A few days later we found a very small red scab on the left side, right about the middle of his rib cage. I always suspected someone, like our 35 year-old (still living with mom and dad) neighbor, had shot him with a bb or pellet gun. Today, Dr. Sammi took x-rays and sure enough, there was a pellet! After that night he never tried to sneak out like the other boys did.

He was the lowest maintenance cat we have. He always seemed the picture of health. But this week it all changed. He started getting sick around Tuesday this week. I thought it might have just been a hairball issue. By Thursday, He couldn't eat or drink. Nancy took him to Dr. Sammi and she gave him a shot of antibiotics and injected him with saline because he was dehydrated. She told us she'd be available this weekend if he didn't improve. Friday was tough. He showed no improvement. There was no way he'd survive the weekend if he couldn't eat or drink! Nancy called the Dr. around 10:30 Friday night. At about 5:40 this morning, the Dr. called back. We were at her place by 6:30. She took x-rays and it showed that Rudy's lungs were full of liquid, and his esophagus was very constricted. We talked with her about what to do. She said that she had seen cats with these same symptoms before and was sure this was FIP(feline infectious peritonitis) related. She had found that Orangie had been a carrier of FIP. There is no cure or treatment for FIP. The virus can hide dormant for a long time before there's a problem.

We made a heart breaking decision... There's no joy in the house this evening.

"Heaven is the place where we meet all of the pets we loved on earth"

RIP my little buddy.