Saturday, January 30, 2010

Folly Fork, NC

If you happen to be slogging your way cross country, bushwhack style and you happen to come across an old barn, filled with 40 chickens, a cat and a coonhound...

I took a small detour north to visit the lit kids at Washington College. There I filled my belly on tasty treats from Hodson Hall before turning south again. Ahead of me stretched the lower portion of the great Chesapeake Bay and the 20 mile bridge-tunnel, that carries the main north-south highway on Virginia's Eastern Shore, and provides the only direct link between there and south Hampton Roads, Virginia. I’m all about direct, so I needed a plan to cross.

I hooked up with a middle-aged fisherman wearing the biggest boots I've ever seen. He was head across the bridge with the intent to land some Big Ones from Sea Gull Pier, which extends from the southernmost of the four man-made islands in the bay. A kindly chap, and he knew I wanted more than just a ride. While he provided a lift, he expected me to work for it so I spent the night chasing sea gulls away from his bait bucket. It was an assignment more appropriate for a Golden Retriever, but it earned me good standing and fish entrails.

Exhausted, I spent the next day sleeping under a couple of smelly tarps in the bed of his pickup until two young pups came exploring. Well rested and fed, I leapt for solid ground in a suburban neighborhood on the west side of Virginia Beach.

It was time to move inland if I am to make for my original stomping grounds in Greeneville, Tennessee. Unfortunately, the foulest of winter weather caught me in the middle of the dreariest of landscapes, Dismal Swamp. I slogged through the dead thickets and thistles accumulating muck on my once shiny coat. When I thought it couldn’t get any worse, winter reminded me that groundhogs have yet to forecast spring. I swear, I never left New York. Snow up to my...chin.

The elements got the best of me. I needed shelter. That’s when I found the barn. Since I was almost in tobacco country, I guessed that a sweet aroma of dried tobacco would linger in the rafters. What a mouth watering delight to find chickens instead.

I shipped one fat bird to MedusaJ in the UK, hoping customs won’t be an issue. It was a special request from my Twitter friend. I plucked a few feathers off another, when an old coonhound moseyed in to see what the commotion was. Stupid chickens couldn’t keep their beaks shut.

Tonight, I’m dry, semi-warm and have a chicken pinned under one paw as I sit in the rafters of an old barn in nowhere North Carolina waiting for the dog to disappear.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bag Lady

The wind hollered like a freight train rumbling out of Buffalo in the middle of January. The Bag Lady, a boney pile of layered rags kept me buried inside her tweed coat. I don’t know who was keeping who warm. She was bedded down under the Southeast Freeway overpass near the Potomac. Faint and eerie shadows danced with the gang graffiti on the overpass' I-beams. Reminded me of the Yard Cats. Suddenly, I missed those boys.

Never a quiet moment for the last several days. My eyes only closed after sheer exhaustion.

I wanted to see more of DC but, I got nabbed by the Bag Lady almost immediately. Sly one, she was. Scooped me up before I knew what hit me. At first I feared I was dinner, for she had nothing to eat but store brand cat food. If it had any tuna in it, it contained the worst part of the fish. I don’t know, what would that be? The feet?

I happily ate what she gave me, but I soon realized that was all she had. I felt bad, but grateful that she fed me. Weird how those emotions got tangled.

She threw a hemp-woven leash and collar on me right away. I got to say, I had no chance to claw my way out of this predicament. She wore layers and layers of rags. No matter what I dug my claws into her, I never reach flesh. So I settled in looking for an opportunity to escape.

The Bag Lady took me on a tour of the sites. Her narrative rambled on. Honestly, I paid little attention to it. She positioned me in her shopping cart and I felt every crack in the sidewalk from 4th Street to the Mall. I did a dental check to be sure I still had all my teeth.

At the Lincoln Memorial she packed me into her coat again and climbed the stairs to the base of the great man’s feet. My, Mr. President what huge feet and hands you have. That’s when I made my escape, nearly tumbling down the stairs tail over whiskers. I veered to my right and found myself standing in the middle of a platoon of soldiers, looking as worn and as bedraggled as me. The Korean War Memorial. I hid among the warriors until I chewed the leash off. It was good to be free again.

My freedom did have a price. I accidentally left my GPS with her. Disoriented, I headed out of town on the wrong road, finding myself headed toward Annapolis. Not being one who likes to back track I pushed on. When I get across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, I’ll turn south once again.

Tonight I discovered it is not crab season in Maryland. More seagull for dinner. Stupid birds are easy to catch as they stand facing the wind ready for take off. Approach from down wind and they never see, hear or smell cat.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cat Overboard

One moment, I’m King of the World, standing on the bow of the MV Cape May and the next moment two hoodlums are chasing me around the deck. Hey, animals are allowed onboard. I wasn’t trying to sneak into the dining areas, which are off limits to pets. The thought crossed my mind, but considering I get slightly sea-sick, I passed on any attempts to sneak into the galley to fill up my belly.

I was a stowaway, but where was I going to get $7.50 to make the voyage from Cape May, NJ to Lewes, Delaware? I hid out behind the rear tire of a late model SUV. I positioned myself after the security guys gave a once “under” the carriage of the vehicle with a mirror on a long pole. I didn’t realize they were trying to keep cats off the ferries.

Once onboard, I went out on the deck to blow the exhaust fumes off me. That’s how I found myself imitating Leonardo on the Titanic. Woo-hoo! I wasn’t expecting to get harassed. The crossing was calm and although the temperatures were reaching an almost balmy 50 degrees, most of the humans hunkered down in the comfy lounges to enjoy a tasty beverage. I should be so lucky.

We were nearing the terminal on the Delaware side when these punk crew members attacked. Like I was stealing fresh air or something. They menacingly called, “Here kitty, kitty.” The younger one of the two, had that evil look in his eye and I knew he meant harm. A real Tyler Hayes Weinman, the punk charged as a cat killer in Florida last summer.

Options were limited. I jumped, clawing at the ropes slung over the side of the ship. I managed to get my claws into the thick twine. I hung on tight but the asshole began flipping the rope until his partner in crime called him off. Fortunately, a few more compassionate shipmates were struck by the horror that this little tabby cat clung to the side of the ship.

Disaster averted, I watched the bow cut through the waters, not far below were I was precariously perched. Salt spray drenched my coat. I closed my eyes and hung on. I felt the ship slow. Maybe I'll make it.

As the MV Cape May slipped into its terminal dock, I took a flying leap for the nearest pylon. Damn thing was covered with seagull crap and I vowed I would eat one before the end of the day.

Back on land this late afternoon. So this is Delaware, state motto: Liberty and Independence. It might be too much for one cat to handle. In the back of my mind, I keeping thinking about crossing the Pacific to Hawaii.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Food Situation

I’m slowly working my south, keeping on the move and staying warm. It burns calories. I’m hungry all the time. Heck, I was hungry all the time at the Old Man’s house. Fed twice a day, a carefully measured ¼ cup at each meal. The Old Man was a Prisoner of War, World War II vet, so you'd think he’d cut me some slack. Throw in extra kibbles. But nooooo. He was under strict rules from you know who.

Geez, look at me. Complaining about what I use to have. Look at me now. Wish I could have a little Science Diet. Instead, I’m gnawing on the bones of what was a skinny rabbit. It got caught in a drainage pipe beneath the highway.

My hunting skills were never as good as Phoenix’s. Once I had that episode where I chased baby five rabbits around the outside of an abandoned dog pen and didn’t catch a one, I quite hunting. When I got close, the rabbits jumped into the pen. Back in the day, I was pretty fat, so I couldn’t slip through the fence like the bunnies. It was too embarrassing to repeat, so I never honed the stalking skills. I get too excited and run too soon. But I’m learning. Learn or starve.

Monday, January 04, 2010


I bid a teary good-bye to Phoenix. After all, we’ve been buds for ten years. Now, I am on the loose. You know, grass is greener on the other side. Except it is January in upstate New York. The only thing green is the hemlocks and even the deer don’t mess with them.

The Old Man went to burn papers this afternoon and left the cellar door ajar. I wedged myself between the door and the jamb and the next thing I knew I was smelling the sweet wafts of winter in the North Country. Yesterday, a fresh snow fell so the landscape sat pretty pristine. Minus all those deer tracks.

Spent my first hours of freedom hunkered down beneath the backyard shrubbery. Two reason for this. There is no snow under there and the birds like landing on the branches after they gather the sunflower seeds from the birdfeeder. They never knew I was there and I nabbed one unsuspecting twitter. What a ball of feathers. These chickadees look fat, but they are so puffed up with air, they are hardly worth all the effort to catch. I had not eaten since breakfast, so I woofed down the whole thing, except for the feet. I didn’t think they would digest very well. My tummy is use to Science Diet DD. From now on the only science about my diet is what I can catch, pillage or beg.

I’ve got miles to go before I find warmer climes, so I got to get on my way. I made it as far as the old school house next door. 200 feet. (Hey, it is a start.) I heard plenty of rodent activity in the foundation, so I expect to find my next meal soon.

Turning left. I'm South Bound.