The Cat and I

I’m not a cat person, never have been, never will be. I prefer the warmth and emotion of a dog to the seemingly cold stare of a cat. My family have never been cat people; we always had dogs growing up. The last time I tried to pet a cat it dug its claws into my hand and wouldn’t let go, so I pretty much steer clear now. I don’t see a scenario where I would ever live with a cat, but a recent discussion brought me back to a brief time in my life when I did.

When I was a kid my grandparents lived on a farm in a small town called Meshoppen, nestled in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania, just off Route 6. On a side note: Route 6 is a beautifully scenic (occasionally scary) road that winds its way through the mountains, a highly recommended drive if you happen to be in the area (my wife and I detoured through there once on our way back from Niagara Falls, totally worth it).

During the summer our family would make the long drive from South Jersey for a visit. One year my parents dropped me off to stay by myself. They would return later in the summer to pick me up. I don’t recall how long I stayed, it likely was a shorter duration than I remember, but our fondest memories have a way of growing larger and grander as the years go by.

While I was there I had the time of my young life: wandering around the big farmhouse and exploring the grounds that featured a pond, wooded hills, and a barn where you could climb to the loft and swing down off a rope to land in the hay below. It was like one of those summers you read about in books.

One day my grandparents brought home a kitten and offered to let me name him. I called him Garfield, despite the fact that with his gray and white fur he looked nothing like the cartoon cat–I guess it was the only cat name I could think of. He took to me immediately and we were inseparable during my entire stay. He followed me all around and when I lay down he would climb on to my chest and sleep there, his body rising and falling in that funny, heavy way he had of breathing. Our friendship was the highlight of my summer.

When it was time to go back home, I was sad to leave Garfield behind but took comfort in knowing that I would see him again. However, not long after returning home I received the devastating news that Garfield had died. It turned out that his heavy breathing was a symptom of a medical problem, something that had afflicted him since birth. I can’t help but wonder if my disposition toward cats would be different now if I had spent more time with him, had watched him grow from a kitten to a cat, but it was not meant to be. Looking back, I am glad I was able to give him affection and companionship during his short life. He gave me so much more in return.

I’m not a cat person, but for one summer of my youth, I had a cat that I loved. I’ll never forget Garfield. He will always hold a special place in my heart.

Cape May: Our Home Away from Home

Cape May: Sunset Beach

Every year around our anniversary (and sometimes in between), we head down to the southern tip of New Jersey for a stay in the lovely shore town of Cape May. We’ve been coming here regularly for over a decade now, to the point where we’ve come to think of it as our second home (I know the roads almost as well as if I were a resident). With nice beaches (including areas to take the dog on the bay side), beautiful Victorian homes, great restaurants, a charming pedestrian mall, and tree-lined streets, it feels like a small town that just happens to be on the beach rather than a town designed to be a beach resort like the other major shore destinations in the area.

If you stay in the northern end of town (as we usually do), with its neighborhoods full of well-spaced houses and green lawns, you can almost forget that you’re even at the beach. But you’re close enough to Wildwood that if you’re itching to spend a night on the boardwalk (and indulge in my favorite pizza, Mack’s), it’s just a quick drive up the coast. We enjoy staying in Cape May during the offseason, particularly in September when we can watch the Monarch Butterfly migration. Unlike other shore resorts that basically become ghost towns after Labor Day, you can pretty much have the same experience in Cape May as you would in-season, only with fewer people.  Our dream is to retire here.

There is so much to love about Cape May, but rather than describe it in words, I thought I’d just share some of my favorite photos taken over the last decade, starting with a few panoramas followed by a gallery of photos that vary in quality depending on the camera that was used. I know there are quite a few, but it’s hard to compress a decade’s worth of photos into one blog post. 🙂

Typical summer beach scene.
Higbee Beach
A view of some of the oceanfront properties.
Overhead view of the main part of town.
The canal that separates Cape May from North Cape May.
The Main Beach
Sunset Beach featuring the iconic sunken concrete ship
(which may not be visible much longer in light of how much it has sunk recently).

And here is the gallery. I had to keep the thumbnail images small so the page wouldn’t take too long to load, but you can click on any image to view a larger size.

Mosquito Haiku Cycle

It’s been a while since I’ve posted something to the creative writing section of my blog, so in honor of the large, nasty mosquitoes that have already begun assaulting us on our patio (looks like it’s going to be a bad mosquito year), here is a haiku cycle devoted to the abominable bloodsuckers (a slightly modified version of one I wrote back in college).

Humid August dawn;
mosquitoes swarm into black
carnivorous clouds.

Mosquitoes cling to
saturated swimmers;
August afternoon.

Damp August darkness;
voracious frogs devour
fleeing mosquitoes.

All of the haiku I have posted so far have dealt with worms, crickets, and mosquitoes. Perhaps I have some sort of insect fixation. 😉