12. wonder.

In the last week, chances are good that if I look down while doing stuff in the kitchen, that’s what I’m going to see.

Charlie watches. He studies. If he’s awake, he wants to know what we’re doing and how it might fit into his new life.

Sure, I’m aware of the thing about curiosity and the cat, but think about this: He has literally never seen any of this before.

The notes from Animal Rescue League didn’t say where he came from, but we know Charlie was picked up as a stray. In his five-ish months, has he lived inside a house? Has he lived inside at all, besides in his time at the shelter?

Let’s assume that he hasn’t. And that means everything — absolutely everything — he sees in here he is seeing for the first time. Today was a great example. I made the full production family spaghetti and meatballs, a process that actually started on Thursday night, when I made about 30 meatballs. On that night and today, Charlie frequently checked in to see what I was up to. He’s not yet as vocal as Miles was, but he’s learning to, uh, ask when he wants something; today, those requests came when wanted tastes of whatever I was working on. The verdicts: A little taste of meatball was good, as was a small piece of pasta with some sauce clinging to it. Salad? Chianti? Not so much.

But remember — this happens with everything he sees. Alarm clocks are weird. We’ve caught him watching TV several times. He has learned that heating vents equal heat … and man, that feels good. The bathroom — with not one, not two, but three sources of running water — is especially fascinating, and Charlie is wide-eyed and underfoot every single morning as we get ready for work, because he wants to watch every single thing we’re doing. He’s not uptight about any of these new things, but his big eyes and his nose are always there, taking in everything they can.

Because it’s all new. All of it.

8. mister charlie.


Meet Charlie. Charlie, meet the internet.

I don’t think either one of us walked into the Animal Rescue League’s shelter on Saturday with the notion that we’d be adopting a cat. Sure, it’s been months since Miles died, and I was feeling like it was time for a new cat in the house … and he was pretty persistent when we saw him in the shelter. After spending a little time with him, we paid a deposit and came home to do a little kitten proofing in the house.


And after a stop to replenish our cat gear, we picked him up and brought him home. He’s doing well, too. Used the litter box? Check. Scratching post? Check. Food and water consumption? Check. He’s a little too bitey, and he’s clearly struggling with the idea that he can climb up on some furniture but not the rest. But that’s all stuff we’ll figure out.

me bumps

We thought about the name Charlie on Saturday, for two reasons: his mustache is the obvious one, but there is also the Grateful Dead song “Mr. Charlie” and the line: “Mister Charlie told me so,” perfect for talkative cat. A number of you guys came up with the same suggestion, so there it is: Mister Charlie.

another bump

And, as you can see, he’s a sweetie. That part required no training.

7. interesting.

  • I found a cool old bow tie at the Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer this morning.
  • I had tamales for lunch.
  • We bought our first East End Brewing crowlers.
  • Oh. We adopted a cat. There will be pix and stuff when we bring him home tomorrow.

1. hey.


I used to do this as a matter of course.

But it’s been years since I’ve regularly written stuff here, much less successfully completed a National Blog Posting Month month. I’m not sure why I’ve neglected a tool that I used to appreciate so much — perhaps it’s because my jobs came to too closely resemble what I used to do here — but over the last several years, that’s what’s happened.

So I’m going to try to have some fun with Uncle Crappy — the blog — this month. NaBloPoMo used to be a thing I did regularly; I even remember approaching that first November with some trepidation about mustering one post a day for an entire month … and then coming up with something like 36 posts in the course of a month.

NaBloPoMo_2015I have no idea whether I have 36 posts in me this month. I have no idea whether I have 30 posts in me this month. And, frankly, I have no idea whether NaBloPoMo is even still a thing these days. (If you read this and you’re doing it too, leave me a comment, willya?)

But I’m going to give this a try.

Folks who have been reading here for a long time will know some of this stuff. For the rest of you: By way of an introduction, here are 10 things you might read about during the course of the month.

Weather. I’m kind of a freak about the weather. And we’re solidly in the middle of my favorite time of year, weather(and other)wise.

Diabetes. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, this is a new development. I’m doing pretty well with my goal of not letting diabetes define who I am, but there are moments of frustration, like the one I experienced today: Hungry, standing in a Sheetz in eastern Ohio and understanding that there is basically nothing in the entire building that I can eat. I get that from time to time; in other instances, I’m able to convince myself that a bowl of raspberries and plain Greek yogurt is every bit as good as a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Of note this month: As we approach the holidays, the diabeetus is going to make things interesting.

Food. No, I’m not trying to be funny. I love cooking. I love eating. And the fun part of my diagnosis has been searching for healthier alternatives to replace some of the crap I can no longer get away with eating. My favorite so far: Whole wheat flatbread pizza with onions and turkey pepperoni.

Beer. This is also a challenge, given the diabeetus, because I still need to keep up with my professional obligations. On my own time, the solution is easy: Drink much less, but drink much better.

Yoga. If there’s something on this list that should define me, it’s this. It’s been a tough fall, because work and our trips to Columbus have really taken away from the time I would spend in the studio, and I notice the absence, physically and — especially — mentally and emotionally. That’ll get better this month, because we travel only two weekends … and man, I need it. I am a different person now than I was 18 months ago because of yoga and the things that come with it, and I can’t wait to really jump back in.

Football. Mrs. Crappy and I are Ohio State football season ticket holders and in the fall, traveling back and forth to Columbus kind of overshadows everything else. We love it — especially the tailgate parties, which we manage for my folks — but by this point of the season, it can be exhausting. You may also hear about my long-tortured existence as a Cleveland Browns fan. My mostly successful plan for enjoying the current NFL season: Caring less means more fun.

Football (other). I had a brief flirtation with Aston Villa a few years ago, but that was based on common ownership with the Browns … so, naturally, that turned out to be a disaster. Over the past two years, I’ve undergone a more organic Premier League selection process, which has reached this final, carved-in-stone conclusion: Liverpool. On the domestic side, this process has been much easier: Columbus ’til I die.

Music. I can’t overstate the importance of music in my life, from the chill stuff that Kristi plays in her yoga classes to the hippie music that has occupied a huge portion of my life since, uh, junior high school. Coming this month: bluegrass, Johnny Rotten, the annual return of Christmas music and a buildup to a Keller Williams show in early December.

Pittsburgh. I grumble about Pittsburgh during football season, but the secret is that I love being here: the places, the social life and especially all of you. And here’s a not-so-closely-held secret: Pittsburgh during the holiday season is magical.

Mrs. Crappy. I saved the best one for last.

fourteen years.

baby milesThis photograph was enough to convince Mrs. Crappy and me to drive from Butler to the Humane Society shelter in Indiana County on Thanksgiving weekend in 2000, with the notion that we’d have a cat in our home for the first time since Cash died a year before. And as it turned out, that one tiny picture turned out to be a perfect representation of the personality of Miles, the cat who would join us for the next 14 years.


This photograph was taken 14 years and four months later, Thursday night, specifically. Miles is as annoyed as he looks; he was never a fan of having a camera or an iPhone pointed at him, and I was interrupting one of his favorite games: tapping at the ice cubes I had just placed in his water dish.

box ears

Most of you already know that I took Miles to the vet the following morning and had him put to sleep. That’s such a difficult decision, but it was much harder to watch and understand how quickly he was declining. It was the right time — navigating the stairs in our house was painful enough for him that he stopped trying, for example — and I’m grateful that we were in a position to end the pain he was feeling.


Gratitude is the overarching theme for this post, for sure. The two businesses we dealt with on Friday — Penn Animal Hospital and OakCrest Pet Crematorium — were both professional and efficient while being sensitive to what we were experiencing. Even better: both places have followed up with sympathy cards. When the time comes again — and it will — we will go back to both.


You guys. We’ve heard from hundreds of you — literally — starting on Friday. We’ve received cards. One friend made a donation in Miles’ name to Animal Friends. We are lucky to have friends and family like you.


And then there’s this guy. We shared his life for 14 years. We gave him food and shelter. We scratched his tummy, pretty much on demand. And as he got older, we did our best to accommodate his increasingly creaky body.

miles chair

Even with all that, he gave us much, much more. And I’m grateful for every minute.