Cat Rescue

Our good friend Carl Ortona sends this harrowing tale:

Story in basics, our cat becomes friends/lovers (in a non-sexual way b/c one is neutered and both are male � but, well, like Dick Cheney, I bear a burden leavened by my love of the bastard we took in off the streets a year ago �.) with another two neighborhood feral/wild cats, both become habitu�s because they recognize value of a free meal when available — Friday afternoon, C came home hysterical b/c as she pulled into the driveway, she spotted one of the cats as it limped up our driveway missing its tail but with grisly spine intact — 1) maybe neighborhood sadists, but they are now in school; 2) somewhat more likely, run over by car; 3) even more likely, caught in rat trap or somesuch under someone�s house and ripped its own tail off — upshot —- have spent last 48 hours trying to 1) find it; 2) when spotted, trying to catch it and get it to vet; 3) found it tonight under the house (which is up on blocks b/c you don�t do basements down here) � so with 8 -12 inches clearance, found it with a flashlight, crawled the fifty to sixty feet to where it was hiding/waiting to die, dragged it by the scruff of its neck to within 10 feet of the edge of the house, and it then proceeded to rediscover its will to die alone and bit and scratched the hell out of my hands and arms —- have already scoured with alcohol and antibiotics and am taking a shower to get the mold and dust and dirt off of me — this was about as intense as it gets unless the feral beast had hand grenades and a Koran in its hand and the combat ceiling was 10 inches, which it was. I actually like the little beast, and like Nietzsche, despite my desire to punt it every time I see it because it reminds me of the little Lord Faunteleroy of the cat world, I care for it (sometimes) more than 99% of humanity — then I remind myself that Nietzsche was only right about a few things (unfortunately, loving brute animals, even feral cats might be one of them) and with a wife who is a legitimate copycat of the above sentiment, duty called.

Off to lick my own wounds; despite cheeky attempts at humor, nothing is sadder, more pathetically gut wrenching, and, well more natural, than a dumb animal which is suffering, and most likely dying, by itself, and viciously fights off any efforts to help because it doesn�t know any better since it is blind to good intentions and a helping hand — such are animals, and hence the image of a �wounded animal� — I know all that, but it didn�t stop me from crawling under the house — I might make a good father after all.

I am sure you will, sir.

A Pretty Boring & Quick Response to James

Well, I’ve clearly disappointed Rummel & in addition begun to suspect I’m not a baby boomer. It seemed to me I had all the marks: my mother had to leave the Navy because she was pregnant; I’m pretty sure this was a choice because both she & my father (who was in the Engineer’s Corps) saw the beginning of the end. My class was the largest one at Kenesaw High in years; the class that preceded us had only 8 in it, but we were a rather unwieldy 26, so many of our classes had to be broken into two. (Think of that next to an urban school, but we’ll move on from there.) They tried to flunk at least half of us out our first year in college because they just didn’t need all of us around. Anyway, I was born in Dec. of ’45.

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Barone 1 – The Personal

In most books, the I, or first person is omitted: in this it will be retained; that, in respect to egotism, is the main difference. We commonly do not remember that it is after all, always the first person that is speaking. I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience. Thoreau, Walden

Ive been reading Michael Barones Hard America, Soft America. His subtitle is Competition vs Coddling. But he describes quite theoretical & profound differences in weltanschauung. Of course, most agree in some situations (say raising a child) coddling is in order and in others (say training for combat) it isnt. Statist economics coddle; free markets compete; closed societies protect their people from ideas, open ones let the bad ones compete.

But Barone is also getting at a larger notion to live is not merely to succeed but often to fail; what we do is often & actually (even if we pretend it is not) irrevocable; that our time is limited and we can not revise endlessly not acting can mean a choice is lost. In short, Hard America sees consequences (sometimes unpleasant and sometimes even disproportionately bad) of our choices. This is a world where authority is earned by risking ones own self, money, time, work, future. This is not the world of the hesitant Prufrock nor of modern social science nor of some tort legislation. It is not therapeutic; it doesnt blink; it doesnt give quarter nor expect it; in short, it isnt soft.

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The Barrel-Chested House

Ive been trained to connect dots with words, though I wander quite a bit. But objects – thats another thing. My sister-in-law & niece & friend joyfully, tactfully arrange colors & textures & shapes. This year, Ive been awed by a decorator who walks through our rooms which have all the coherence of loose baggy novels, rooms confused & pointless. Then, she edits, she connects the dots, finds a pattern. I appreciate what works I think we all do. But Im not much good at achieving a look. (I find myself putting quotes around words that remain mysteries.) It takes a sense of proportion & mine is always unsteady: afraid Ill either let the old – tradition – swallow us whole or that we will throw away the house’s essence, what it is, in throwing out what it was.

And so, we come to my personal problem. It is not unlike our local school’s attempt to keep the rituals of old army as the Corps becomes a smaller and smaller percentage of the students and women outnumber men. How true to this house should we be how much change can we impose without destroying it, without emasculating it?

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Failed Heroes


Lonnie Love, Summer 1965

Early one Saturday morning in August of 1965, my father left home for work.

He went to work on a Saturday because he needed the extra money. Nearly a year before, an evening of poorly planned passion in the front seat of his Chevy Corvair resulted in my entry into the world that March. My father’s college job as an oil field roughneck suddenly had to support a family, so when two friends of his offered him a fill-in spot on their oil-storage-tank cleaning crew, to take the place of third friend who was ill, he jumped at the chance.

He was 20 years old.

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