RIP Jasper, 1998-2015


Jasper left us just after midnight last night. He started having seizures Monday afternoon and it was all downhill from there. He passed away laying on a towel on our bed with my wife whispering his name and saying goodbye. I won’t go into further details. As Legolas said, “for me the grief is still too near.”

He was a monster among cats, weighing twenty-two pounds a good portion of his life and little of that was fat. We started referring to him as “the baby” when he was a kitten and for the rest of his life he would answer to either his given name or to just “Baby.” He was ridiculously fussy, insisting on fresh cold water several times a day and only eating only Purina’s Pro Plan cat food his entire life. When Purina changed the packaging from foil bags to plastic jugs he declared it poison. We ended up driving fifty miles to a store that still had the bags and buying their entire stock. Until about a year ago, if I opened a new container of food he’d avoid it for a couple days because POISON!

Jasper was never a cuddler but he liked to always be near his people. He was friendly to guests and developed a great relationship with one of our closest friends. He’d demand to be picked up for short periods of time, would love to lick my hand and then maneuver so that hand would rub the side of his enormous head. He wasn’t one that would spend the night sleeping with us but he’d always check in for a little while, purring like a diesel engine on idle.

Jasper led a very particular life. He was not fond of change. We moved three times in two years and it was traumatic each time. This was a cat that would take weeks to adapt to a new water bowl. But he enjoyed life as much as any pet I’ve ever had, including dogs. He would get this beatific expression that my wife called “Happy Jaspy”, front paws stretched out in front of him, eyes closed to slits, and an expression on his muzzle that was a close to complete and utter bliss as an animal could get.

The last couple months were hard on Jasper and I’m glad he’s no longer suffering. He’s in a better place now, with the beloved cats he grew up and grew old with: Jasper, Hodge, Poca. His paws are stretched out. He’s smiling.

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X-Files: If I Ran the Zoo

X-Files Undercover

It’s just been announced that the classic 90s TV series The X-Files will return for six episodes. David Duchovny (the man, the myth, the monotone) and Gillian Anderson will be back as FBI agents Mulder and Scully with writer/producer Chris Carter at the helm.

I both celebrate and dread this. The problem is where in the X-Files will they pick this up? After season five everything went off the rails and the two movies were no help. And then there’s Mulder’s chief frenemy, Alex Krycek, who was killed at the end of season eight. Carter’s “mythology”, the over-riding story arc of the series, was made up as they went along and it got to a point where that became a detriment. Don’t even get me started on the Lone Gunmen. So if they pick this up at where the last movie left off, they’ve got a real mess on their hands.

This is getting tossed back and forth on Metafilter right now ( and one of the best ideas is to just create an alternate universe scenario where everything that happened after season five didn’t happen. It certainly wipes out a lot of bad memories and tortured logic. But my guess is they’ll just pick up the thread after the second movie and muddle through. To do otherwise would mean they’d have to admit that the last half of the series was nonsense and Hollywood egos don’t allow that sort of thing.

But you know what, we’ll still all watch it. The pull of nostalgia is undeniable, especially for a show that was such a seminal part of so many fan’s lives. Plus the chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson is still going to be a sight to behold. But there never will be anything as gloriously crazy as this again.

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Salted Moose


Above is a 2014 picture of the slough/wetlands that got inundated with waste water a little over a month ago. We drove out to the farm yesterday and though the well site is still a mess there was enough dry ground for me to maneuver the Mercury Land Yacht (TM) around. The cleanup crew has dug an impressive trench from the well site all the way to the wetlands. I assume they’ll test the water soon. They also replaced a sizable amount of scoria on the well pad. Scoria doesn’t come cheap. We estimated that there was at least a quarter of a million dollars worth on the site when drilling began. So this fiasco is costing Hess a chunk of change.

When it’s not a muddy mess I’ll walk around the site and take more photos. We (the extended family) were told we’d get updates but let’s just say they’ve been less than regular. So I will take my photos and keep things documented. There are good and diligent people working for the oil and oil service companies. I’m pretty sure this will be done right. But the pervading culture in this industry is still one of obfuscation. As the State Department used to say when dealing with the Soviet Union over nuclear disarmament, trust but verify.

The slough that may be contaminated is only one of several on our farmland and one of the smaller ones. It’ll make little impact on wildlife but this industry is having a cumulative effect on the creatures that have no voice. Here’s an excellent post on Prairie Blog from Jim Fuglie regarding the woes of North Dakota wild life.

Speaking of wildlife we caught a rare glimpse of the moose couple that hang around the farm. We were just about a hundred yards from the old farmstead when the bull and cow crossed from a neighbor’s field and into the ancient shelter belt that forms a western border to the farmstead. I drove the Mercury Land Yacht (TM) around the shelter belt and was amazed at how well they blend into the trees. I’m posting the two photos I took. If you zoom in on your computer, aim for a spot above the bleached stump in the middle of the photos. You’ll see the dark outline of the cow. The bull is off to the side of her but impossible to see.

The moose base themselves in the largest section of wetlands on the farm, an area my dad and uncle referred to as “The Big Slough”. No, they didn’t have much imagination about such things. But it is home to a lot of wild things and an oil pipeline goes right by it. I pray for the sake of everything feathered or furry that the pipes keep their poisons out of the ground.



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DryLok and Hard Rock


Here’s a photo of the downstairs beer fridge that I posted last year. Note the wall behind the fridge and keep in mind that the photo doesn’t do it justice. The walls of this room were painted this ugly florid orange sometime in the early 70s, back when my brother was a ping pong fanatic. In fact he still refers to it as the ping pong room. It is a truly hideous sight to behold and my wife shudders every time she sees it. These walls are cinder block circa 1959 and they are susceptible to mold and moisture. Last year around this time I had grand plans to paint this room. Last year around this time I fractured and shattered my ankle.

In the last few weeks I’ve been scrubbing the walls with bleach solution to get the black mold and scraping off the white salt efflorescence. Today I began painting those areas with Drylok. I bought two cans of Drylock in January of 2014. Let’s just say it had some time to settle. When I opened up the first can what I saw was a light brown watery substance covering a mass of white sludge. I had some work to do. I’ve stirred old paint before but nothing is as resistant to change as this stuff. I worked it down to the consistency of a thick malt shake and then worked it down to the consistency of heavy cream. Per the Internet that’s about as good as Drylok gets. I had to experiment with a couple brushes and rollers before finding a big old brush of my dad’s that seemed to handle it best. Then I spent a few hours painting.

We moved the little CD player with the iPad dock downstairs a couple months ago and today I had my “Loosely Tight” playlist on shuffle. It’s a long playlist of deep tracks and some hits from the Band/Dylan/Stones/Faces/Zep/REM/White Stripes/Johnny Winter/Mott the Hoople/etc. Lots of greasy guitar riffs and haphazard drum rolls are perfect for slopping on paint this thick. I played it LOUD.

Now the carpal tunnel in my right hand is killing me as is my left ankle. But the sections of the wall that were moldy or salty are all painted, as are the corners of the room. Tomorrow I’ll go back and paint until my hands and ankle give out. Repeat until done. Pain builds character or pain just means I’m stubborn. Take your pick. But this job will get done. Then I’ll enlist my wife and we’ll paint this room and the one next to it colors that aren’t going to make guests of delicate sensibilities stagger to the fainting couch.

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And Yet My Wife Thinks We Don’t Have Enough Pets


We had a week of very warm weather. Temperatures were in the high 50s to mid 60s. The cats were quite enthused about this. This was taken Sunday afternoon, when everyone was tuckered out and ready for a nap. The wind had picked up and there was a hint of cold returning. Carjo was napping in our bedroom with the windows open so there was a mass migration to the man cave where the windows were closed.

This morning there’s snow on the ground and the wind is just plain cold. Daniel stood at the open door and cursed the world. He’s sleeping in the living room, waiting for spring to return. So are we all.

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Caturday is Sunday


It’s 55 degrees and it will hit 60 before the day is over. Sneakers is taking advantage of the weather to get some sunbathing in on the back steps. Come Monday, the temperatures go back down to the forties and I suspect he’ll spend the day on our bed, asleep and oblivious.

In other cat-related news, Jasper had a serious low blood sugar incident yesterday. He had thrown up in the morning and then had not eaten anything the rest of the day. So he got his insulin shot in the mid-afternoon and then just about supper time he crashed. His back legs kept slipping out from under him and he was quite confused. Then he emptied his bowels on the dining room floor. At first we thought he was a goner but Carjo thought it was his blood sugar after he was placed on a blanket in the kitchen he was offered food. He ate a few bites, rested, ate some more, rested, and ate some more. Then he got up under his own power, walked on steady feet into the living room, and jumped up onto his favorite chair. Whew. Today he got half a dose of insulin and has spent the day in his chair, enjoying the sun in his own way.  Long live the king of the house, may his reign go on.

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A Different Kind of Anniversary


A couple days ago it was the one year anniversary of me smashing my left ankle to smithereens and splinters. Today I did fifteen minutes on the treadmill and realized that I’m now ready to push it up to twenty. I’m already at a higher pace than when I began so I feel pretty pleased with my progress. I also noted that I walk without a limp on the treadmill. I don’t know why that is but it has to be a good thing.

I don’t know when I’ll be able to start jogging instead of walking. I suspect that might be a couple months away. But damn, it’s good to make progress in getting my wind back and a somewhat normal way of walking. So here’s to an anniversary and here’s to making it a distant memory.

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