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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.

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.

27. not quite.

My blog is snowing. That means it’s December.

This is post No. 27. That means I didn’t quite complete NaBloPoMo.

Given that I was near death for the entire last week, I’m OK with that.

In the last month, I’ve re-learned a little bit about balance — finding time to take care of stuff at work, at home and here. I’ve also learned that it’s tough to blog when you spend an entire week either asleep or in the bathroom.

I could have done some things to make post-a-day regimen a little easier.


Like, say, posting more cat photos. I’ll work on that part.

9. the best gift ever.


Visitors make life unpleasant for Miles, who is completely relaxed with us but pretty high-strung around nearly anyone else.

He knows my parents, which helps. Some. But it took him much of the evening to decide it was OK to come up out of the basement, and even then he wouldn’t join me on the couch until my mom went to bed upstairs.

He joined us in bed for a moment but didn’t stay; house guests interrupt his daily explorations of his territory, and he had some catching up to do.

Which is why I was a little surprised when I heard him and a slightly muffled meow coming back upstairs and into our room.

And he had come with a gift.

Although he has the run of the house, there are very few things in this place that are truly his: the food and water dishes, the upstairs and downstairs cat accommodations and a few of his favorite toys. He seems pleased with his stuff, too. These are the things that are most important in his life.

So when he shares them with us — as he did just a few minutes ago when he brought his catnip banana from the kitchen upstairs to our bedroom — I am touched. I don’t know what the specific message was, because he didn’t seem interested in playing. Maybe it’s a way of reassuring himself that things are OK, even with visitors snoring away in our guest bedroom.

But for whatever reason, it was important enough to our cat at that moment that he hauled his favorite toy — the most important object in his life besides those that have to do with food or pooping — through two rooms, up a flight of stairs, across a hallway and into another room so he could share it with his people.

Cats can’t communicate? Wrong. Miles does, loud and clear.

an illustrious start.

Normally, tradition dictates that on my birthday I would post a single picture of an Ohio State football player whose jersey number reveals my rapidly advancing age.

But this morning, I had such an incredible beginning to start of my new age that I’m going to alter tradition a bit. Miles was trying to get one of us up so he could enjoy an early breakfast. He still seems to think he has a better chance to get Mrs. Crappy out of bed, so he had walked up between us so he could better discuss this situation directly with Mrs. Crappy’s ear.

I was facing Mrs. Crappy in bed, and when I briefly opened my eyes to see what was going on, I saw this — the very first thing I would see on my birthday:

cat butt
Note: This is a stunt butt. Miles was not available for photographs.

And that, boys and girls, is an awesome way to start a birthday.

Oh, the number?

A.J.-HawkHappy birthday to me.