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Monday, June 28, 2010

Oliver: 1997- 2010

We had to put him down today, and both Pam and I are sad. He was one of the most affectionate and interesting cats I've known. He had this odd habit of dragging out wool sweaters and blankets from where we preferred them in the bedroom to where he preferred them in the kitchen. Some of the blankets were heavy and Oliver was a small cat, so this chore took a reasonable amount of effort. He did this "work" at night presumably to avoid being observed for reasons known only to him.

His best buddy, Gus, died in March. We called them brothers although there was no blood relationship. Gus was the only other animal Oliver liked. He despised Jerry, a third cat who lived only a few years.

Oliver could be cranky and quick tempered with humans also and expressed his displeasure with a fearsome hiss. He did this to my sister Elaine at a dinner party we hosted this past winter, and it hurt her feelings because she's a cat-lover. Later when we were still at the table he climbed over a couple of people to get to Elaine's lap where he stayed as if he wanted to make up. It's significant that one of the people he climbed over was Pam who was his all time favorite person.

When he was younger and had bursts of energy, he would sometimes shoot through the house and leap up onto the drapes where he would hang upside down emitting a low growl. He was the most verbal cat I've known and had seemingly an infinite variety of sounds. Some nights or mornings he would place himself outside our closed bedroom door and go through a concert of his sounds in an effort to get fed or get attention.

He was fun to share a house with and beautiful to look at.

We miss him.

Too many deaths over the past few months

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thoughts after a week at the beach

Very few.

I don't think the beach is conducive to profound thoughts. Maybe the rhythm of the surf crashing and the tidal movement lulls your mind into dullness. Maybe it's all the beer. Whatever the reason, my level of conversation rarely progresses past "Hey, pass me the sun block" as I act as a human sundial by adjusting the position of my chair to follow the shade of the beach umbrella.

One observation that I make every time I go:

Most adults never go into the water. My family seems to be the exception because we all think swimming in the ocean is great. Just get out beyond the breakers.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

One of Marv's Paintings

When I first met my friend Marv he was an avid painter, and many of his paintings were nudes. I guess it was because he liked looking at naked women.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Catching Largemouth Bass in the Pond

Just over a month ago I wrote about watching the largemouth bass on their spawning beds in the nearby pond. Those 12-15" bass have been giving me some great sport during the last few afternoons on a 5 weight fly rod. Yesterday the bite came on a foam spider, and today on a new fly that I read about in the latest issue of Fly Fisherman magazine.

This fly is so simple that I should have thought of it myself. It's just black chenille and white rubber legs tied on a 6 or 8 hook. Because it resembles nothing identifiable that fish feed on, it's in the category of attractor rather than imitative flies. The creator of the pattern designed it primarily for big bluegills but mentioned that he's caught some good bass on it as well. He weights the hook by wrapping with lead, but the first couple I tied unweighted to run a few inches below the surface. Pictured above is one of the ones I tied and used today.

The fly was created by Jim Dean who lives in North Carolina but writes that he caught his first trout on Big Hunting Creek in Maryland, a stream I know well.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The President is Hipper than I am

I don't go around thinking I'm hip. My primary self image is as a father and as a fisherman, and neither of those is very hip. However, I'm used to being hipper than whoever is the American president. It's partly an age thing, but not completely. Music producer Ahmet Ertegun was in his 80's when he died, and he was probably the coolest and hippest man in the world. Bill Clinton tried for cool with his saxophone and dark glasses for a TV appearance in 1992, but his actual musical tastes were Fleetwood Mac who haven't been hip and cool in 30 years and Kenny G who was never and will never be hip and cool. Don't even think George W and hip at the same time because your brain will reject such an obvious contradiction. These two were the first presidents in my age bracket.

This subject is on my mind because a few days ago I discovered a jazz vocalist, bassist named Esperanza Spalding. Upon investigating videos of her on the Internet, I realized she performed at the White House last year. That President Obama was hip to her a year before I was should not be shocking to me, but it is. Esperanza also appeared on David Letterman, and after her performance Dave (who is exactly my age) said to sidekick and band leader Paul Shaffer (who will be hip his whole life), "You were right. She is the coolest guest we've ever had."

Why all the excitement about this young lady? Well, the string bass was my instrument so I can judge bass players with more intelligence than I can other musicians, and she is very good. She also sings and composes very well. Now, Pam thinks Esperanza got my attention mostly because she's sexy. Pam hasn't said this, but I know she is thinking it. Ok, Esperanza is obviously a lovely young lady, but it's her talent that is important to me. At least I think so.