Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Scooter, July 2007 - March 23, 2016


Scooter died in my arms today.

He started to show some symptoms a few weeks ago - vomiting brown bile (more often than usual) and a loss of appetite. A visit to the vet two weeks ago didn't yield many answers, but he was given a shot and we left with some stuff to treat the possible causes. Over the next week his loss of appetite worsened, an we took him back for an emergency visit last week. Tests showed some slight worsening in some measured items from the previous week - most worryingly, the loss of half a pound - and he also seemed to have developed a cold. He received hydration, and we left with more meds and a plan to monitor and schedule a follow-up.

He got worse in the subsequent days. On Sunday after work I spent several hours holding him as he dozed, listening to his breathing, feeling his heart beat. He seemed weak, but he was still mobile, in his own way, and was able to get around on his own. I repeated the ritual on Monday after work, and while he seemed weaker, he was still able to get around on his own a little. But, unlike the previous evening, he would now groan whenever his position was changed. On Tuesday morning we arranged another appointment for Wednesday, today, my first day off. By Tuesday evening, the last day of my work week, he was weaker still, no longer able to support his own weight, instead lying with his legs splayed out. (We noticed him lying like this on his second visit to the vet.) He wasn't groaning anymore, but instead was exhibiting what seemed to be trembling seizures.

I had a dental appointment Wednesday morning, but when I came home I picked Scooter up and held him again. His breathing was shallower than ever. He was not aware of his surroundings, and was mostly motionless, except for the occasional tremor and "questing" behavior - the sort of behavior animals display when they are looking for a place to die.

It seemed likely that his health was collapsing, that he might not even make it to his 2:00 appointment.

I soothed him as best I could while my mom got ready to head out. I talked to him, and sang to him, and called him by all his nicknames ("Scooter Pie," "Scooter MacGruder," and "Scoot McShmoot," among others.) I recounted for him the story of his life. I told him he was a good boy. I told him we hoped he could stay with us, but if he had to go, that was OK, because we didn't want him to be in any pain. I kissed him dozens of times on the top of his head. I cried, a lot.

He began seizing again, and then questing.

I called my mom over. She wasn't quite ready to go. She petted Scooter and talked to him a bit. Then I told her to finish getting dressed so we could go. It was 1:00. It takes fifteen to twenty minutes to get to the vet's. I didn't think Scooter would make it.

As my mom turned to go, Scooter seemed to watch her, even though I don't know if his eyes were focusing on anything. And then he just...stopped.

I didn't call out to my mom. I didn't yell for Scooter to come back, as I had done when our cat Josie died in my arms fifteen years before.

I watched him for a while. Listened for breathing, felt for a pulse. Blew on his ears. Nothing. He was in my arms, his face near mine. I closed his eyes as best I could.

My mom came back out, ready to go. I told her what had happened.

We headed up to the vet's, now going up to drop Scooter off for cremation. I called ahead as we pulled out of the driveway to let them know that we wouldn't be needing the 2:00 appointment after all.

The vet asked our permission to perform an autopsy. He was curious as to why a cat who, despite chronic health issues, died so quickly while displaying so few symptoms. A few hours later he called with the results: vascular angiosarcoma of the liver. Not much that could have been done, other than surgery and chemotherapy, with a very poor prognosis.

Here are some photos of Scooter through his life:

July 17, 2007

August 25, 2007

September 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Day, 2007

February 16, 2008

September 20, 2008

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Springtime by the numbers

I wrote this poem on the last day of Spring in 2013, two hours before I read it at an open mic. It works just as well on the first day of Spring, which is today. I've made one tiny edit in this version.

Springtime by the numbers

A three at the top of the page meant
cold, windy days, wet weather,
fish on Fridays and giving up candy

Four brought with it brighter days
and frosty mornings
a feast of chocolate
and a sense of change

Five meant things were wrapping up
the tests had a special sort of urgency
Flowers for the Virgin
put there by little girls in white dresses
Sunny mornings and sunnier evenings
that beckoned us to put our homework aside and play

Six, though, six was special
even the nuns didn't feel like working anymore
and they gave us extra sessions of recess to break up the day
A six at the top of a page or a test or a quiz thrilled you
and made you feel like it was a bad joke
Blue skies and cool breezes
Afternoons after school spent on the swing set
listening to the birds and watching the clouds drift by
and wanting to stay there forever.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Pennsylvania Primary registration deadline

Pennsylvania has a "closed" Primary system - registered Democrats vote for the Democratic nominee, registered Republicans vote for the Republican nominee. If you're planning to vote in the 2016 PA Primary, you need to be registered and turn eighteen by Primary day, April 26, 2016. Registration deadline is thirty days before the Primary, which puts it on March 27, 2016 - Easter Sunday. (CORRECTION: The deadline is MONDAY, MARCH 28.) If you want to vote in the Primary, make sure you're registered before then!

You can register to vote online here:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A letter to Senator Pat Toomey, R-PA

Submitted via Pat Toomey's contact page. Is your Senator one of the obstructionists refusing to consider President Obama's nominee to fill the seat on the Supreme Court left vacant upon the death of Antonin Scalia? Send them a performance review of your own. Hey, you're paying their salary, you get to give them a job evaluation!

Don't know who your Senator is or how to contact them? You can look them up here.

Senator Toomey, speaking as your employer, I must express serious concerns with your job performance.

In November of 2012, the voters of the United States of America made clear their choice for President. Among his duties is the responsibility to nominate candidates for the Supreme Court upon the death or resignation of a member. There is currently a vacancy on that Court, and President Barack Obama has announced a nominee to fill that position.

You have stated for the record, "it is wise to give the American people a more direct voice in the selection and confirmation of the next justice." But this has already happened. The American people chose someone to make these nominations - not for three-quarters of a Presidential term, but for the entire term. Yet you and several of your colleagues have chosen to disregard the choice of the American people, and have instead discovered a new interpretation of your job duties that allows you to, in effect, do nothing.

Be aware that your employers are scrutinizing your job performance very closely, and other candidates are being considered to replace you. You have certain job expectations, and would be well advised to meet them. Or you may be hearing, to quote a certain reality reality TV personality and Pizza Hut pitchman, "You're fired."

Monday, March 14, 2016

Orion Amongst the Clouds

Orion the Hunter stalks through the post-twilight clouds of the southern sky, preparing to fight Taurus the Bull, whose head (represented by the V of the Hyades) can be faintly seen in the upper right. The hunting dogs Canis Major and Canis Minor are the two pairs of bright stars in the lower left. Photo taken shortly after sunset on Friday, March 11, 2016.

First Robin sighting, March 14, 2016

It's not Spring yet, so I won't call it the First Robin of Spring.  Spotted around 5:50 PM on Monday, March 14, 2016 on the way home from work, on a fence on Front Street in the Hanover Section of Nanticoke.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Roman's Candy, Wilkes-Barre

Nearly eleven years ago I wrote about Diamond's Candy Shoppe in Nanticoke, the source of my favorite chocolate since I was a wee lad. Diamond's began closing sporadically shortly after that, then closed its doors for good about five years ago. Since them we've gotten our holiday chocolate from a few other sources, but mainly from Roman's Kitchen Made Candy in Wilkes-Barre.

Roman's is located at 40 South Regent Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18706, and the phone is 570-823-7834. This is a small operation - basically a one-woman show. It's a small, locally-owned business, in a world that is trying to squeeze out small, independent businesses. I got to have a nice conversation with the owner about the state of the industry, including how her chocolate supplier was absorbed by a huge multinational corporation that then vastly increased the minimum order size.

Roman's is only open for a few weeks before the major chocolate holidays of Christmas and Easter. (I'm not even sure if she was opened for Valentine's Day!) If you want something specific, or if you want to be assured of getting the quantity you're hoping for, you might want to call ahead.

Roman's features filled and solid milk chocolates in all shapes and sizes. They also have a selection of dark chocolate, white chocolate, and even some peanut butter shapes like the rabbits on the upper right.

These cows are reminiscent of Northeastern Pennsylvania's most famous cow, Three-O-Nina!

I could just see the folks from the Dinosaur Toy Blog have a go at these chocolate Stegosauruses: "The oversized head lacks cheeks, while the dorsal plates are arranged in a single line, reflecting outdated reconstructions of the genus. The scutes embedded in the sides are a nice touch, though a quick check under the tail reveals the usual lack of a cloacal opening."

One of my friends asked online if the Scottie Dog might be a tribute to Fala, Franklin D. Roosevelt's dog. I don't know, but it's possible that the molds date to the middle of the last century. Meanwhile, the chocolate cross is a staple of all Easter Baskets around here, though I understand such confections are frowned upon in other areas. What could be more appropriate for the season than to eat the symbol of the Crucifixion in delicious solid milk chocolate?

If you want to support a locally-owned business, or a woman-owned business, or an independent business in a world full of soulless mega-corporations, or if you just like good chocolate, be sure to check out Roman's Kitchen Made Candy in Wilkes-Barre!

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Dream: Dolly S. in the Car

Had a dream about a girl I think I used to know the other night. I had taken my mom into Scranton for some reason, and was waiting for her in the car. I was parked on Courthouse Square on Washington Street, which in my dream was a two-way street. I had been sitting there for a while when I saw a car pull out of a parking space two cars in front of me. It was a red Mini Cooper, and the driver executed a perfect U-turn to drive toward and past me. I glanced over and saw the driver was this girl - woman - person - let's call her Dolly S. - who I've known for over five years, and whose life I was pretty heavily involved in for much of the last two and a half. She was driving the car (in the waking world, I had planned to teach her to drive once she got her learner's permit, but she never got around to that), but was hunched over and leaning on the shoulder of her boyfriend - now fiancee. They drove past without either of them noticing me.

And that was pretty much it. It wasn't an especially odd dream. What is odd is that in all the time I've known her, including the latter part where I was performing the duties of both a parent and a responsible boyfriend, I never had any dreams of her that I can recall. Now, after she has gotten engaged and I have probably run my last errand for her and had my last meal with her, now I have had a random dream in which she makes a cameo. I guess that's the way these things go.